Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From June 11 to June 17, 2022

The Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Olga Chekhurska, Victor Martin, Amandine Paillette, supervised by Clelia Frouté.

06/10/2022 : Kosovar Prime Minister announces that an application for EU candidate status will be filed by the end of the year – Amandine Paillette – 

On June 10, Albin Kurti, the Kosovar Prime Minister declared that a formal proposal to integrate the European Union would be submitted by the end of the year. While receiving German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Pristina as part of his first-ever visit to the Western Balkans, Albin Kurti assured the press of his desire to join the European Union quickly. Thus, an application for candidate status should be made before the end of this year, the Kosovar Prime Minister having declared: “Europe is our destiny, Europe is our future“. He added to his words: “We still aspire to EU candidate status and we will apply for it by the end of the year“.

A former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, the country has still not been recognized by Serbia. Although a large number of European countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence, other countries have not played along, such as Russia, China and de facto Serbia. It is this problem of recognition that has so far prevented Kosovo from joining the UN. For this reason, at a joint press conference held by the Kosovar Prime Minister and the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz invited Serbia and Kosovo to reconcile, in particular to facilitate their demand for integration into the European Union. He said that “What is important for Kosovo is that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, led by the EU, progresses“. He ended by welcoming Kosovo’s alignment with the European sanctions, taken against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.   

06/10/2022: On tour in the Western Balkans, the German Chancellor asks the Serbian authorities to align themselves with the European sanctions against Russia – Amandine Paillette – 

Since June 10, Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor is visiting the Western Balkans where he made official visits in the space of two days in 5 countries of the region. While he was in Serbia, Olaf Scholz questioned his Serbian counterpart on the position of his country towards Russia not aligning with the European sanctions. Expressing Germany’s support for a potential adhesion of Serbia to the European Union, the German chancellor however specified that “all candidates for accession (to the EU) join these sanctions“. Comments that did not please the Serbian leader who replied: “As much as you love the integrity of Ukraine, we love the integrity of Serbia“. He added: “We Serbs remember what sanctions look like and, on the other hand, we had a different kind of relations with the Russian side for centuries“. The Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, referred in particular to the cooperation of his country in energy with Russia.

This exchange is part of the German representative’s desire not to hand over the region to Russian influence and to boost the integration process of the Balkan countries in the European Union. Indeed, during his meeting with the Kosovar Prime Minister, he explained that two countries that do not recognize each other – Serbia and Kosovo – must advance the dialogue, if they want to pretend to integrate the European Union. The German Chancellor made these two countries his first official visits to the Balkan Peninsula, which continued in Greece, Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria. 

06/16/2022: The French, Italian, German and Romanian heads of state visit Ukraine. -Victor Martin-

On June 16, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi visited Ukraine. They first went to Irpine, a city on the outskirts of Kiev. The European heads of state pledged to support Ukraine so that it can “resist and prevail” against Russia. Faced with a city that is 80% destroyed, the European leaders called on Ukraine to “rebuild everything”.

The three European heads of state then went to Kiev where they were joined by Klaus Iohannis, the Romanian president, to meet with Volodymyr Zelensky. During a one-hour meeting, the heads of state discussed the relationship between Ukraine and the European Union. At the press conference, Emmanuel Macron announced that the four European states support Ukraine’s application for EU membership. President Zelensky believes that Ukraine deserves this candidate status, while saying that he is “ready to work” to become a “full member”. The European countries have also committed to provide more heavy armaments to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president has also accepted the invitation of Olaf Scholz for the G7 meeting that will take place from June 26 to 28. 

06/17/2022: The European Commission formulated, on Friday 17 June, its attitude towards the European Union candidate status of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. -Olga Chekhurska-

The European Commission has recommended that Member States grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status. At a press conference European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The Commission recommends to the Council, firstly, to give Ukraine a European perspective and, secondly, to grant it candidate status. This, of course, provided that the country carries out a certain number of important reforms”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed this “historic decision” and said he was “grateful to Ursula von der Leyen and to every member of the European Commission“. He also said that “this is the first step on the road to EU membership, which will certainly bring them closer to victory against Russia“.

The Commission is also in favour of this status for Moldova “as long as the leaders of the country continue to make the reforms“. As far as Georgia is concerned, it still has to fulfil certain conditions to acquire a positive opinion.

This opinion of the European Commission will be discussed at the European summit on June 23-24. The leaders of the 27 European countries will have to decide unanimously.

It was after the Russian invasion that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky began to make efforts for the admission of Ukraine into the European Union. At the same time, EU leaders warn that the accession process can be lengthy despite candidate status.

During a visit to Kiev on Saturday June 11 of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said that Ukraine undoubtedly belongs to “the European family“, but some reforms still need to be implemented.

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