Decision on the status of the candidate of the European Union of Ukraine; Kosovo says EU needs to do more
Kosovo’s President Vojosa Osmani-Sadriu told CNBC that the expansion of the European Union is a question of geopolitical strategy and security.
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BRUSSELS — The European Union needs to pay more attention to the Balkans to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from expanding his influence there, Kosovo’s President Vojosa Osmani-Sadryu told CNBC on Wednesday.
The 27 EU members are expected to grant Ukraine candidate status to join the bloc this week – the first official step towards full membership. But it has reopened a difficult and delicate debate within the EU over its expansion.
The European Union has not welcomed any new countries since 2013, when Croatia joined the grouping. This is partly the result of the bloc’s difficult political and economic climate: shocks of the global financial crisis, its own sovereign debt crisis, and then a refugee wave from the Syrian civil war.
Those events increased support for populist parties across the region, causing many capitals to prioritize domestic problems over expanding EU membership.
But this has started to change, though slowly, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A recent survey by the European Parliament found that European support for EU membership is at a 15-year high.
The leaders of Germany, France and Italy visited Kyiv last week to voice their support for Ukraine’s effort to join the bloc. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, then said that both Ukraine and Moldova were ready to move a step closer to membership, provided they implement a number of reforms.
But some EU countries have objections about reopening the bloc’s doors.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said there was a risk of creating “false hopes” with Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said the EU should provide immediate support to Kyiv rather than open a “legal debate”.
Joining the EU has traditionally been a lengthy process, given that potential members will have to align their political and judicial systems with those of the bloc.
Furthermore, opening the door to one nation can mean opening the door to many others.
Kosovo is one of several states in the Western Balkans, located in Southern and Eastern Europe, that aspire to join the European Union.
The country – which has been waiting for four years to lift visa requirements for EU travel – expanding the bloc is a question of geopolitics.
“It is also an issue of EU credibility, and also the EU’s understanding that bringing the Western Balkans as a region, embracing it and bringing it to the table is also a strategic interest of the EU, because as As I said earlier, the more the EU diverts its attention, the more other malicious actors will use this space, mainly Russia,” Osmani-Sadryu said.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, and is recognized by 110 countries, including the United States, but not by Serbia and its ally Russia. It has not yet become a member state of the United Nations.
EU members Greece, Cyprus and Spain are also among those who do not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign nation, making its possible entry into the EU highly controversial.
“Now in the light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is nothing more complex and more important than fighting autocratic, genocidal regimes such as the Russian regime, as allowing Russia more space to expand its influence in the European continent, it is our The worst will happen for everyone, whether we are within the EU or outside the Union,” Kosovo’s president said.
The subject will be debated among European leaders on Thursday. Whatever they decide and say to Ukraine will be closely monitored in the Balkans.
Albania and North Macedonia, which changed their names in an effort to increase their chances of joining the European Union, previously received candidate status, but are still waiting for accession talks to begin.
“It is important how leaders explain the expansion to their people,” Osmani-Sadriou said, adding that EU leaders need to emphasize that the bloc’s expansion is “in the benefit of peace and stability of the entire European continent.” “