Ukraine's EU candidacy: a “historic” moment for kyiv, a “bitter” pill for the Balkans

It’s a “turning point for the EU”, title the Suddeutsche Zeitung. Gathered at a summit in Brussels, the 27 endorsed the candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova on Thursday, nearly four months after the invasion launched by the Russian army. Never has the EU been so quick to grant this status, a new illustration of its solidarity with kyiv and Chisinau.

“Ukraine’s EU candidate status sends strong message to Moscow”, analyzes the BBC. He aims to show the Kremlin “that neither kyiv nor Brussels accept Putin’s vision of a new European order”. But the Russian president “knows that the road from candidate status to EU membership is a long one. Along the way, Ukraine will face many obstacles, many of which will likely be put up by Russia”concludes the British media.

An “act of self-preservation”

For the Suddeutsche Zeitung, EU states have “understood that this war was also aimed at them and that it is a continuation of Russia’s countless hybrid attacks against the Western system and the common good of the EU”, emphasizes the German daily. “Granting candidate status to Ukraine is therefore not a benevolent gesture in relation to the war, it is an act of self-preservation”he concludes.

At the same time, the announcement of granting this status to kyiv and Chisinau aroused anger on Thursday “bubbling” Western Balkan countries, blocked for years in the antechamber of the EU, note the European edition of the site Politico. “It is time for the EU to keep its promises before making new ones”notably reacted the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski.

Along with the five other Western Balkan states (Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia), his country had been invited on Thursday morning, as a prelude to the European summit, reports The evening. “It was […] not to leave aside these countries, all surrounded by EU Member States, at a time when the Union was preparing to mark a date with History by conferring on Ukraine under the Russian bombs the status of ‘ candidate’ for European membership, as well as for Moldova”notes the Belgian daily.

“It was extremely difficult to take a big step forward with Ukraine without moving in relation to the Western Balkans, also for our credibility”told the Evening a European diplomat, ahead of the meeting. But “the least we can say is that the plan flopped” note the diary.

An “explosive” geopolitical “game”

The veto opposed by Bulgaria to the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia for reasons of historical and cultural disputes was met with “bitterness” by Balkan leaders, notes Politico. “The Bulgarian position remains unchanged until the Bulgarian parliament takes a decision”, announced Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, overthrown Wednesday evening by a motion of censure. Due to the Sofia-Skopje dispute, negotiations with Albania are also stalled, with the two bids being linked by the EU. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama denounced the blockage and the fact that the other 26 members of the EU “remain seated and offer a frightening spectacle of helplessness”.

By making their “enlargement policy a tool of geopolitics”, the 27 engage in “an explosive game”, warn the Suddeutsche Zeitungpointing to the “direct collateral damage” caused by the decision of the 27 to validate the candidature of Ukraine and Moldova to the EU. In the Balkan, “resentments and inter-state rivalries can explode at any time”notes the German daily.

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