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Ukraine kicked open the doors to the EU and wants to join NATO without the MAP: highlights from an interview with Olha Stefanishyna

Ukraine will be ready to join the EU in three years because it has already "kicked open the door to the EU". Ukraine also wants to join NATO swiftly without waiting in a queue for its application to be approved.

These were the statements made by Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna in her interview with Ukrainska Pravda.

Stefanishyna: Ukraine kicked open the doors to the EU [video]

Answering whether Ukraine will join NATO, Stefanishyna said:

Quote"Certainly, if NATO exists by that moment."

The Page has summarized the main points from the Deputy Prime Minister’s interview.

There were doubts about EU candidacy

Stefanishyna says that when the decision to grant Ukraine the EU candidate status was still pending, she had doubts because the discussion at the level of leaders went off schedule.

In particular, there were lingering debates over the Balkan countries, and some countries wanted to pursue their interests in exchange for a vote in favor of Ukraine.

Quote"I was very worried that the decision might simply fall through. However, once the debates were over and I wrote to the President that our matter had been taken for consideration, in 30 seconds, Ukraine became a candidate to join the European Union."

How much time does Ukraine need to join?

Speaking about the time needed for Ukraine to prepare for becoming a member of the EU, Stefanishyna emphasized that Kyiv shouldn’t be part of the Balkan format of YE expansion.

Quote"When we were given the candidate status, we had already done a lot: despite being at war, we obtained a transport visa-free regime, joined the European energy system, got tariffs and quotas canceled, etc.," she reminded.

The Deputy Prime Minister says that Ukraine is planning to announce its expectations on September 5 at the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council in Brussels. When asked about the timeline for the negotiations on accession, she asserted that 2023 is an absolutely realistic term, while it will take three years for Kyiv to finish the preparation:

Quote"We’ll see if the EU can keep up."

Will the war be an obstacle to the negotiations on membership?

When commenting on the fact that the EU will have to initiate negotiations with the country which is currently at war, Stefanishyna pointed out that the Ukrainian government remains fully capable.

Quote"We have a fully functional government, both at the central and local levels, the parliament, and all parts of the state governance system, including the judiciary system. That’s why there are no obstacles to negotiating," she explained.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the government has also developed a formula enabling it to implement its commitments to the EU in a time of war: some laws will enter into force during martial law while others will be pending until the end of the war.

No requirements set by the EU are hard to meet

Stefanishyna affirmed that no requirement set by the EU for becoming a candidate and a member is hard to meet.

She said that there were negotiations with teams from the European Commission on each of the seven EU recommendations to settle common expectations.

Quote"The EU knows that we are working, they know about the actions and laws we’ve scheduled," Stefanishyna said. "The progress we’ll have demonstrated by the end of September on each of the recommendations will also have a positive effect on EU member states that were skeptical about Ukraine, those that have set these requirements."

The war has eliminated Russia’s narratives about the EU and NATO

Ukraine is now as close to NATO as it can be without becoming a member.

Answering the question about Ukraine’s aspirations for NATO membership, she emphasized:

Quote"We have to be at the table when the collective security system is discussed. If NATO is to be the platform that will address these issues in Europe, we definitely have to be there. If it’s Ramstein or any other format, we will be there."

She also noted that Russia hasn’t made demands for Ukraine to abandon its NATO aspirations for a long time, since the war has eliminated the narratives about the "NATO threat."

She believes that the window for accepting Ukraine as a NATO member can occur even before the end of the war.

The MAP is the new Bucharest for Ukraine

When asked whether it’s impossible for a country being at war with a neighbor with its territories partially occupied to join NATO, the Deputy Prime Minister said it’s not true.

Quote"Former NATO Secretary General Rasmussen offered formulas for doing it," she affirmed.

The Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the problem now lies in the fact that NATO has little to offer Ukraine as an organization, since the majority of negotiations are being held in the bilateral format. Nevertheless, Kyiv doesn’t mind joining.

Quote"The issue of Ukraine’s NATO membership cannot be dismissed. On the contrary, Ukraine will be a very strong NATO member," Stefanishyna added.

At the same time, she pointed out that Ukraine no longer needs a Membership Action Plan.

Quote"Such a proposition today would be equal to the resolution of the 2008 Bucharest summit (when Ukraine was denied the MAP as NATO succumbed to Russia)," Stefanishyna says and emphasizes that Ukraine needs only membership.
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