“Ukraine is not Luxembourg”: Scholz spoke about the expansion of the European Union

German Chancellor calls for EU reform from within

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz proposes a major enlargement of the European Union, but with accompanying reform. To expand the EU, Brussels must first change, the head of the German government believes.

Photo: Global Look Press

The European Union must to expand significantly, but first it must make fundamental reforms so that the enlarged bloc can still function, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said recently.

During an hour-long speech at Charles University in Prague, Scholz laid out his vision for the EU's future — one that would absorb up to nine new members in its eastern fringes, expand its visa-free zone, and overhaul major decisions on everything from foreign policy to taxation.

Scholz's presentation, which largely included the ideas he had previously promoted, came at a pivotal moment for the EU. Conflict continues in Ukraine, and an energy and inflationary crisis looms in Europe, which makes many worry about disagreements in the European Union, Politico notes.

In particular, Scholz supported EU membership of the Western Balkan countries, as well as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. He also claimed that EU members Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria meet the criteria for admission to Europe's Schengen area, which allows easy and visa-free travel between its countries.

“But a Union with 30 or even 36 member states will be different from our current Union — the center of Europe will shift to the east, — recognized by the chancellor. – Ukraine — this is not Luxembourg.

Such enlargement would potentially add tens of millions of people to the EU's population and threaten to complicate the EU's already confusing and consensus-based decision-making process.

This means, Scholz said, that discussion of reforms “cannot be ignored.” For a start, he insisted, the EU must abandon the requirement for unanimity in many key decisions, not only on foreign policy and taxes, but also on how countries like Hungary and Poland are held accountable for a potential retreat from democracy.

Scholz argued that the European Parliament should also not exceed its current size of 751 members — the number set in the EU treaties. He rejected the idea of ​​”bloat” the size of this body by simply adding MEPs in the case of a new country joining.

The EU must also be wary of how the bloc's executive branch, the European Commission, will react to enlargement. Currently, the Commission has 27 authorized — as many as there are countries in the EU, — each of which oversees one political portfolio. Scholz said that it would be “Kafkaesque” continue to add new policy portfolios each time a new country joins. Instead, he argued, the EU could move to have two commissioners in charge of one area — for example farming or fishing.

Separately, Scholz also supported the idea of ​​French President Emmanuel Macron to create a “European political community” that would exist separately from the EU and be open to both EU applicants and the UK after Brexit.

The German chancellor said that the forum could contribute to “a regular exchange of views at the political level” hellip; where we, as leaders of the EU, and our European partners can discuss once or twice a year the main issues affecting our continent as a whole.

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict in February,  with the delivery of aid to Ukraine, despite the fact that the country adopted the “historic” decision to send weapons to Kyiv. The conflict also drew attention to Germany's long-standing dependence on Russian gas, which has led to a sharp increase in energy prices in the country.

During his speech, Scholz touched on these issues.

Regarding assistance to Ukraine, the chancellor said that he could “imagine, for example, that Germany would take on special responsibility for the creation of Ukrainian artillery and air defense”, adding, that Germany has just signed another arms shipment to Ukraine worth 600 million euros.

And he reiterated that moving away from fossil fuels gave Europe the chance to become a world leader in the technologies needed to achieve climate neutrality. He called for “a true internal energy market that supplies Europe with hydropower from the north, wind from the coast and solar power from the south.” Scholz also outlined the vision for a “European hydrogen network connecting producers and consumers.”

The EU must also update its immigration laws, the German leader said, taking a step to expand legal immigration amid a shortage of skilled workers. “We need immigration — we are now faced with the fact that in our airports, in our hospitals and in many companies we lack qualified workers in every nook and cranny, — Scholz said.

However, immigration has long been a concern for EU countries, and the bloc rarely manages to reach consensus on any part of the topic, Politico stresses.

Another issue that has also baffled the EU is how to control members who deviate from democratic norms, including an independent judiciary, financial transparency, a free press, and gay rights.

Towards the end of his speech, Scholz said he was concerned that “illiberal democracy is being talked about in the center of Europe as if it were not an oxymoron,” hinting at the shortcomings of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland.

Scholz said that the majority wants the EU to uphold democratic values, but the bloc's rules prevent it from doing so. He referred to the EU Article 7 clause, a procedure designed to potentially disenfranchise wayward countries in the EU, but which has stalled with Hungary and Poland.

“Among the — rule of law procedure in accordance with Article 7 — and here we must move away from the possibility of a blockade, », — said the chancellor, adding that financial pressure could be another tool.

“It makes sense to me to permanently tie payments to rule of law standards,” — said Scholz.

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Scholz called for the creation of a common air defense system of the European Union

Germany intends to support the EU's efforts to create its own rapid reaction force, independent of NATO, and deploy a European air defense system /756617852757504.jpg 673w” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” > < source srcset="https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/resized/320xH/media/img/4/50/756617852757504.jpg 320w" media="(max-width: 320px)" >

Olaf Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, during his speech at the Charles University in Prague, called on European countries to create a common air defense system, reports the Financial Times.

According to the publication, in his speech, Scholz addressed the need to make Europe more “sovereign”, able to better defend against external threats against the backdrop of hostilities in Ukraine and more effectively resist competition from countries such as China.

According to him, Germany intends to make “essential” investments in air defense in the coming years. Berlin will invite all other European countries to participate in the project.

“We have a lot to catch up in Europe in the field of protection against air and space threats,”— emphasized Scholz.

The German chancellor also promised to make every effort to ensure that the EU rapid reaction forces are deployed as scheduled, by 2025.

At the end of March, against the background of hostilities in Ukraine, the countries of the European Union for the first time in history agreed on a common defense strategy “Strategic Compass”. The key new elements of the “Strategic Compass” became ten points, among which was the creation of a rapid deployment force by the European Union numbering up to 5 thousand military personnel who will be ready to respond to “various types of crises”.

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The NATO bloc criticizes the possible appearance of its own armed forces in the European Union. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pointed out back in March 2015 that it was important to avoid “duplication” of NATO forces. In September 2021, he said that any attempt to weaken the connection between the European Union and the United States after the EU has its own army could “split” the EU. Europe. “I welcome Europe's additional defense efforts, but something like this can never replace NATO. And we need to make sure that Europe and North America stick together. Any attempt to weaken the link between them will not only weaken NATO, but will also split Europe,— he explained the position of the alliance.

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Borrell warns of serious consequences of sanctions for the European Union

European official Josep Borrell warned of serious consequences of sanctions for the EU /v6_top_pics/resized/673xH/media/img/2/83/756616797860832.jpg 673w” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width : 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

Josep Borrell

In the near future, the EU will face serious difficulties due to sanctions against Russia, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told Kronen Zeitung.

According to him, one cannot deny the rise in gas prices, but the West “should be ready to pay the price of freedom.” that disrupted supply chains. As a result, the EU countries faced a record inflation for several decades, which primarily affected the prices of utilities and products. Annual inflation in the eurozone against the background of restrictions in July reached a record 8.9%.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly stressed that the restrictions of Western countries will not affect the decision of the country's leadership to conduct a special operation in Ukraine, but will harm the inhabitants of European states and the global economy.

European leaders acknowledged that the sanctions hit their own economies, but still insisted on the need for restrictive measures against Russia. Borrell said in July that the rush to cut off Russian energy was creating difficulties for many EU countries, but that it was the price Europe had to pay to defend democracy and international law. “We are taking the necessary measures to solve these problems in solidarity,” — he assured.

The head of the EU diplomacy urged Europe to show patience: according to him, the effectiveness of sanctions will be fully manifested only in the long term.

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed exceptions to the ban on the entry of trucks from the European Union

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has named some exceptions for the entry of trucks that travel from the EU to Russia. Earlier, RBC and Interfax sources said that the authorities would ban them from entering the country from October 1 as a mirror response to EU sanctions /2/33/756611261363332.jpg 673w” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi )” >< source srcset="https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/resized/800xH/media/img/2/33/756611261363332.jpg 800w" media="(max-width: 400px) and (-webkit-min- device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 400px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)" >

entry of trucks from the territory of the European Union, if they transport goods of certain categories. The department reported this to Izvestia.

The Ministry advocated to allow the entry of trucks that carry goods of the pharmaceutical and medical industry, perishable goods, as well as goods requiring special storage conditions.

In addition to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture is developing the list, the publication noted, citing a source in the government . The competence of the department includes products of the food industry, including alcohol, but the list has not yet been received from it. The agency did not respond to Izvestia's request.

At the same time, the Association of Retail Companies suggested that Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov add alcohol to the list with exceptions. Among the reasons, the association named possible damage to products when loading onto other trucks, high demand, higher logistics costs and a possible increase in the waiting time for vehicles at the border.

In April, the European Union banned Russian and Belarusian trucks from entering EU territory as part of sanctions due to hostilities in Ukraine. Then the leaders of eight associations of food manufacturers asked Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin not to introduce retaliatory measures, Kommersant wrote. RBC sources said that the Ministry of Transport decided not to ban the entry of trucks from the EU to Russia.

However, in July, Interfax sources said that the ban on the entry of heavy vehicles from the European Union may come into force on October 1.

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RBC's source clarified that there is no final decision yet. According to him, the authorities are discussing the introduction of a restrictive regime, which will last until the end of 2022. With it, they will check the operability of the scheme with repacking or reloading trucks at the border.

From the beginning of June, Kazakhstan allowed the recoupling of goods for Russian and Belarusian carriers due to the geopolitical situation until January 1, 2023 of the year.

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The head of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry saw the “exhausted appetite” for sanctions from the European Union

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis sees EU's “dry appetite” for sanctions against Russia EU countries fear winter and upcoming problems with gas supplies, and therefore Europe has no desire to increase restrictions against Russia, Landsbergis said. He allowed the situation to change after overcoming the challenges ) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis

Pressure on Russia with the help of sanctions will continue, the condition for this is that Europe overcomes difficulties, for example, related to energy imports, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in an interview with Deutsche Welle (recognized as a foreign media agent in Russia) .

“I think the appetite for more sanctions has dried up. I think a lot of European countries are anxious about the coming winter when it comes to gas prices and stuff.” <…> But I believe that everything will not be as bad as expected, — said the head of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.

The EU countries and other states of the world have been imposing sanctions against Russia since the end of February. The last sanctions package in the EU was approved at the end of July, it became the seventh. Within its framework, the European Union introduced a ban on “direct and indirect imports, purchases or transfers of gold, which is the most significant Russian export after energy resources”; and expanded the list of dual-use technologies prohibited for delivery to Russia. This package of sanctions was called “the sixth and a half” in Europe, as it basically clarified and strengthened the previously imposed restrictions.

Officials both in Russia and abroad have repeatedly declared that the limits of Europe's sanctions capabilities have been reached. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said back in March that the EU “did everything it could”; regarding financial restrictive measures (followed by the fifth, sixth and seventh packages of sanctions). In June, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called the “sanctions arsenal” The West is exhausted. A Le Monde source in diplomatic circles at the end of July said that Poland and the Baltic countries are in favor of new restrictions on Russian gas, but this issue is not brought up for discussion, so as not to make obvious disagreements within the European Union. “We've come to the end of what we could do,” — he claimed.

The Russian authorities consider the sanctions illegal. The Russian Foreign Ministry insists on the harm from the “EU sanctions exercises” for different segments of the global economy and security, including countries— members of the European Union. “The situation is aggravated by the anti-Russian measures of the EU, openly pursuing the goal of undermining the foreign economic activity of our country”, — said the representative of the department, Maria Zakharova. President Vladimir Putin assessed the losses of the European Union from the “sanctions fever” in $400 billion.

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Lavrov saw a “geopolitical gambit” in the status of Ukraine in the European Union

The West has moved away from the “either-or” principle to “whoever is not with us is against us,” Lavrov is sure. In his opinion, Ukraine has become an “eternal candidate” in the European Union for the role of “extras in the games” of Western countries

Granting Ukraine and Moldova the status of a candidate member of the European Union became part of the “geopolitical gambit” against Russia, these countries “destined for an unenviable fate,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an article for Izvestia.

The minister considered that Ukraine and Moldova have become “eternal candidates” to the European Union. France initiated the creation of a European political community, but joining this organization will not bring economic benefits, the minister believes, noting: “but there will be demands for complete solidarity with the EU in its anti-Russian actions.”

“either-or”, but “who is not with us is against us”, — emphasized Lavrov.

The head of the Foreign Ministry is sure that all European countries except Russia will be invited to this association, however, Moscow was not interested in membership in it. He claims that Kyiv, Chisinau and other “courted” Brussels, the countries of the world will be “extras in the games” Western countries.

The European Commission recommended granting Ukraine and Moldova the status of candidates about a month ago— June 17. Kyiv has adopted a number of tough laws against oligarchs and implemented 70% of the EU recommendations, said the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us in the European dream,— stated in the message of the European Commission in Telegram. If reforms slow down and there is no progress in the fight against corruption, this candidate status may be withdrawn, the EC warned.

A week later, on June 23, the European Council granted Kyiv and Chisinau this status. «Historic Moment»— appreciated the head of the European Council Charles Michel.

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Russia has never been against Ukraine's accession to the European Union; this state, said President Vladimir Putin. He also criticized the “civilizational choice” thesis; Ukraine. “What kind of civilizational choice is this, sorry for the bad manners? They dug money from the Ukrainian people, hid it in banks and want to protect it, — sure the President of Russia.

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Sergey Lavrov

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March 21, 1950

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The EC called the conditions for the withdrawal of the status of a candidate member of the European Union from Ukraine

Ukraine should continue reforms to combat corruption, the influence of oligarchs and support for minorities, otherwise the achievements in integration with the European Union will be canceled, the EC pointed out, recommending that it be granted candidate status

Candidate Member Status The European Union could be withdrawn from Ukraine if a number of conditions are not met, including strengthening the fight against top-level corruption and oligarchs, as well as reforming legislation regarding minorities. This is stated in the conclusion of the European Commission.

The Ukrainian authorities will also have to adopt laws on the procedure for selecting judges of the Constitutional Court, complete the selection of candidates for the creation of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges, conduct “active and effective” anti-corruption investigations, appoint new heads of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.

The introduction of specific legislation would have to limit “undue influence” oligarchs in public and political life, however, it should be implemented in a legally justified way, the document states. The Ukrainian authorities will also have to bring the country's legislation into line with the EU directive on audiovisual media services and empower an independent media regulator, which will allow “fighting the influence of vested interests.”

“Steps towards the European Union may be canceled if the basic conditions are no longer met”, — stressed in the European Commission, adding that they will monitor the progress of Kyiv in fulfilling these conditions, a detailed report on this is scheduled for the end of this year. adherence to European values ​​and the sustainability of their own institutions that guarantee the rule of law, democracy, human rights, protection and respect for minorities.

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The European Commission recommended granting Ukraine candidate status on Friday, June 17. The head of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, pointed out that the Ukrainian authorities have adopted tough laws against oligarchs and have implemented 70% of EU reform recommendations regarding minorities. “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us in the European dream,— stated in the message of the EC in Telegram. The issue of the status of Ukraine will be discussed by the leaders of the EU countries at the summit at the end of next week, June 23–24.

“We have no right, after so many weeks of hostilities, to say to Ukrainians: “Come back later,” — emphasized French President Emmanuel Macron, noting, however, the process will take time. At the same time, Tbilisi considered that Georgia deserved the status of a candidate more than Ukraine. Prime Minister of the Republic Irakli Garibashvili clarified: “If the status is determined by war, we do not want war. We demand a well-deserved status.

Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that Moscow has never been against Ukraine's accession to the EU, speaking only against the “military development” of Ukraine. this country. At the same time, he criticized the thesis of “civilizational choice”; Kyiv. “The so-called civilizational choice” what is it, excuse me for bad manners, in FIG civilizational choice? They dug money from the Ukrainian people, hid it in banks and want to protect it, — Putin thinks.

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What will give Ukraine and Moldova a recommendation for admission to the European Union

And why the European Commission has questions about Georgia The European Commission's recommendation to grant Ukraine and Moldova the status of an EU candidate country opens up a long process of negotiations and reforms. RBC figured out what milestones await countries on their way to the EU “What will the recommendation for admission to the European Union give Ukraine and Moldova” />

What was the verdict of the European Commission on the applications of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia

On Friday, the European Commission issued recommendations on granting Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia candidate status for EU membership. Three countries applied to join the European Union after the start of the Russian military special operation: Ukraine— February 28, and Moldova and Georgia— March, 3rd. The EC evaluated them according to three types of criteria: political, economic and by the ability of the country to assume the obligations of the country— member of the EU.

The press release following the meeting says that the EC recommended to grant the status of the country— EU candidate Ukraine and Moldova “on the understanding that further steps will be taken”, while Georgia was offered a “European perspective”, the EC recommended that it be granted EU candidate status after Tbilisi has fulfilled “a number of identified priority tasks. Georgia was given a deadline until the end of 2022.

“Georgia's application is strong … But for success, the country now needs to unite politically in order to determine a common line on structural reforms in EU direction»,— explained during a press conference the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Speaking about Ukraine, von der Leyen said that she “clearly demonstrated the desire and determination to comply with European values ​​and standards.” and that its EU accession process is “merit-based”. At the same time, the head of the EC decided to support Kyiv not only with words: for a press conference, she dressed in the colors of the Ukrainian flag— she was wearing a yellow blazer and blue pants. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately reacted to von der Leyen's statement, tweeting that “this is the first step towards EU membership, which will certainly bring [Ukraine's] victory closer.” He added that he is grateful to the head of the EC and each of its members for the “historic decision”; and what awaits his support during the European Council summit on 23 & ndash; 24 June.

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What lies ahead for the country

Granting Ukraine and Moldova the status of a country— candidate for the EU must be approved by the leaders of all 27 countries of association at the summit of the European Council. However, despite the recommendation of the EC, there is no unity within the European Union on this issue. Bloomberg reported that the Netherlands and Denmark opposed. In Copenhagen, they justify the refusal by the fact that Kyiv's readiness to assume the necessary obligations within the EU is still “generally at a very early stage.” At the same time, the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Romania, following talks with Zelensky in Kyiv on June 16, called on other countries to support the granting of the corresponding status to Ukraine and Moldova.

At the same time, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Oliver Varhely reminded that the granting of candidate status for EU membership does not yet lead to membership in the union. “Today we are only making the first decision in the EU accession process, proposing to grant candidate status. We are not talking about the start of accession negotiations. When the conditions are met, we will return to the question and discuss whether all the criteria for the next step were met, but this decision is not today, — he said.

How Georgia became a special case

It was decided not to grant the candidate status to Georgia yet, although all three countries simultaneously went through previous procedures for rapprochement with the European Union. An agreement on association and the creation of a free trade zone was concluded by Brussels with Tbilisi simultaneously with the same agreements with Kyiv and Chisinau— June 27, 2014. In 2017, along with citizens of two other countries, Georgians received the right to short-term visa-free trips to the countries of the European Union. Like the governments of Ukraine and Moldova, the Georgian government has invariably declared its desire to gain membership in the European Union, and this line was supported by both the president and the cabinet of ministers. In Moldova, during the presidency of Igor Dodon (2016-2020), there were disagreements between the heads of state and government about the foreign policy. Dodon was a supporter of rapprochement with Russia.

Before the publication of the recommendation of the European Commission, experts expected that the position on Georgia would be excellent. “Georgia” it's a paradox. On the one hand, the implementation of the economic part of the Association Agreement (AA) and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU is impressive. In this respect, it has surpassed not only Ukraine and Moldova, but also some candidate countries in the Western Balkans. <…> On the other hand, its political regime has for many years run counter to fundamental EU values ​​regarding the functioning of democratic institutions and the rule of law. At the heart of the problems lies the concentration of effective political power in the hands of the unelected, unaccountable oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, embodying the paradigm of the captured state,— stated in the CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies) survey.

In 2021, the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, had to intervene in resolving the crisis between the parliamentary opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream party, because of which the parliament could not work normally, one of the elements of the agreement was early parliamentary elections, which again won “Dream”, founded by Ivanishvili. However, the term “captured state” was also used in relation to Moldova, as the European Parliament described the situation in the country in 2018. The actual “owner” country until 2019 was called the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. However, during the intervention of the EU and Russia in 2019, a new ruling alliance was formed within the country, and Plahotniuc fled the country. Georgia is also recommended in one of the recommendations of the European Commission “deoligarchization”.

Georgian opposition politicians expected bad news from Brussels. Chairman of the opposition party “United National Movement” Nikanor Melia stated in advance that “all responsibility will be placed on the authorities that have not complied with the latest resolution of the European Parliament.” In it, the Georgian authorities called for the transfer of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who was sentenced to six years in prison, for treatment in Europe, and the founder of the opposition television company Main Channel; Niki Gvaramia should be immediately released from prison (he was sentenced to three and a half years for financial fraud). The UNM intends to hold a protest action on June 20. Georgian Ombudsman Nino Lomdzharia has previously warned that if the pro-European course is not implemented, Dream “violates the Constitution, the transitional provisions of which require the authorities to strictly pursue a policy of joining NATO and the EU.” “Georgia has been waiting for many years for official recognition by the European Commission of the European perspective. We are pleased that the European Commission has officially recognized this prospect and offered a specific guide to obtaining candidate status, — the chairman of the ruling party “Georgian Dream” commented with restraint on the decision Democratic Georgia» Irakli Kobakhidze (quote from Sputnik Georgia).

Who is one step closer on the path to the EU

Currently, the status of the country— There are five EU candidate countries: Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Turkey. The latter applied to join the association back in 1987 (however, it received candidate status only 12 years later, in 1999), while the rest of the countries— in the 2000s. Nevertheless, none of the countries yet has specific data on how long it will be able to become a full member of the EU. Moreover, in 2020, at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron, the EU changed the procedure for accepting new members. If earlier obtaining the status of a candidate and initiating negotiations on the criteria that must be met for entry into the EU, it was mandatory to obtain the status of a country— union member, it is no longer guaranteed. According to the new procedure, the European Union has the right to stop negotiations at any time, terminate them or restart the negotiation process in certain areas if it is not satisfied with their course. The EU still has questions for each of the candidate countries.

In the case of Albania and North Macedonia, a high level of corruption remains one of the main obstacles on the way to the EU, while the decision to start framework negotiations with the countries was taken by Brussels only in 2020. Serbia has also been at the closed doors of the EU for a long time because of its refusal to recognize the independence of Kosovo, as well as its unwillingness to bring its foreign policy in line with the European one, including imposing sanctions on Russia, as demanded of it in Brussels.

< p> Turkey has long had a reputation as the most controversial candidate for EU membership. Unlike other countries, it is the only Muslim and densely populated, and most of its territory is in Asia. Formally, the unsettled issue of Northern Cyprus is an obstacle. At the same time, the EU also notes the deterioration of the situation with democracy in the country, including repressions against civil society, the absence of the rule of law, judicial interference and violation of human rights. This is stated in the latest report of the European Commission on the country. Currently, negotiations between Ankara and Brussels are suspended.

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Why Hungary and Turkey interfere with the plans of the European Union and NATO

And will the two countries be able to achieve the cancellation of the initiatives criticized by Moscow The special positions of Hungary and Turkey hinder the efforts of the EU and NATO in their confrontation with Russia. What is the reason, does Budapest and Ankara have a desire to take into account the position of Moscow and how everything can end – RBC figured out

Statue of the Goddess of Europe in Brussels

On Wednesday, May 18, representatives of the EU countries will meet again in Brussels to discuss the sixth package of sanctions against Russia. But European leaders cannot expect that it will be adopted in the near future in the proposed form: the reason for this is the position of Hungary and the fact that decisions in the union are made on the basis of consensus.

A few days earlier, Turkey announced that he cannot agree to the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO.

Why Hungary continues to insist on its veto

The sixth package contains a proposal to introduce a ban on the import of crude oil from Russia in six months, as well as on the import of Russian oil products from 2023. Even at the initial stage of discussing these measures, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were against the oil embargo, since they are heavily dependent on energy supplies from Russia. The European Commission decided to meet them halfway and allowed Hungary and Slovakia to continue importing Russian oil until the end of 2024, and the Czech Republic— until June 2024. After that, Bratislava and Prague withdrew their objections. However, Budapest is still not ready to withdraw its veto.

The position of the government of Viktor Orban was sharply criticized at the EU ministerial meeting on 16 May. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters that Hungary is holding the European Union hostage. “The whole union is being held hostage by one member state that cannot help us find a consensus,” — complained Landsbergis, specifying that the EU expected that Hungary's proposed delay would be enough for it to lift the veto.

The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, stood up for Budapest, pointing out that Hungary's objections are not political, but economic. He explained that the country is concerned about the problem of creating new infrastructure and purchasing new equipment for receiving and processing oil not from Russia, for which its refineries are designed. In addition, the rejection of Russian oil will mean that Budapest will have to purchase it from other suppliers at higher prices, which will affect the Hungarian economy.

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Viktor Orban has previously compared ditching Russian oil to “a nuclear strike on the Hungarian economy.” On the air of Kossuth Radio, he recalled that Hungary has no access to the sea, and therefore it is forced to receive oil through the pipeline. “The pipeline to Hungary starts in Russia… that's the reality,” — he stated.

Hungary's dependence on Russian energy is really significant— 60% of oil and 85% of gas the country receives from Russia. Orban said the country needs five years to convert oil refineries and other infrastructure to process raw materials from non-Russian sources. This process will require huge investments, and the increase in the cost of oil will lead to an increase in unemployment and call into question the national program to reduce public utility costs, which is largely based on low prices for Russian energy resources.

The high inflation rate in the country and the budget deficit, including the blocking by Brussels of a €8 billion tranche intended for the recovery of the Hungarian economy after the pandemic (the reason was the divergence of views between Budapest and Brussels on the rule of law), carry significant risks for the country .

Against this backdrop, on May 16, Budapest decided to raise the stakes in the game: Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that “a complete modernization of the Hungarian energy infrastructure is needed on a scale from «15 billion to»18 billion”, later specifying that Hungary has the right to expect a new proposals from Brussels. At that time, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was in Budapest on a visit, but her negotiations with Orban ended in nothing.

According to the Euractiv portal, the clause on lifting the Hungarian veto from the sixth package of sanctions in exchange for economic preferences may be submitted to an informal EU summit scheduled for late May. The Financial Times quoted an unnamed European official as saying the EU should make the Hungarian prime minister a lucrative offer. “Orban is very pragmatic, it's business,” — he explained.

What is Turkey counting on in the dispute over NATO expansion

As for NATO expansion, Turkey's position has become an unexpected obstacle to the alliance between Sweden and Finland, says Asli Aydintashbash, senior political analyst at the European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR). Ankara cannot yet give a positive conclusion on the admission of the two new countries, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last Friday. “Scandinavian countries as guest houses for terrorist groups”, — he gave one of the reasons.

Indeed, Ankara has repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the fact that many supporters of the PKK found refuge in Sweden and Finland. (PKK, classified as a terrorist organization in Turkey), as well as supporters of US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen (whom Ankara considers the organizer of the coup attempt in 2016).

On May 17, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö expressed hope that that the crisis can be overcome. “Turkey's statements have changed very quickly and become tougher in the last few days,” he said on Tuesday in an address to the Swedish parliament (quoted by Reuters).— But I am sure that with the help of constructive discussion we will solve the problem.

As Aydintashbash notes, it is not yet clear what exactly Erdogan wants— change the position of the US Congress on the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey (the deal was canceled after Ankara bought and received the Russian S-400 air defense system), get more money to support Syrian refugees or extradite political activists suspected of terrorist activities to Turkey.< /p>

“It is unlikely that Erdogan had one specific political goal in mind, but he will certainly expect to be persuaded, persuaded and rewarded for his cooperation, as he has been in the past,” concluded the ECFR analyst.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry describes relations with both northern countries in calm tones. As stated on the website of the department, relations with Sweden date back to the 17th century, when the Swedish king Charles XII, after being defeated in the Northern War by Russia in 1709, fled to the Ottoman Empire and ruled the kingdom from Bender and Edirne for five years. Diplomatic relations with Finland were established in 1924. Trade turnover with Sweden in 2020 amounted to about $2.6 billion, with Finland— approximately $1.3 billion.

The main problem is not in Finland, but in Sweden, says Al-Monitor. The kingdom has received several waves of Turkish migrants, including Kurds, as well as refugees from Turkey's neighboring countries, and the Swedish Foreign Ministry regularly criticizes Turkish military operations in Kurdish territories in Syria.

In 2019, Sweden and Finland imposed an arms embargo on Turkey due to military operations in Syria. By this time, both countries had become leaders among countries selling military goods to Ankara: Swedish military exports to Turkey in 2018 reached $30 million, Finnish exports in the same year amounted to $17 million. in the terrorist activities of immigrants (On Monday, the Turkish Ministry of Justice said that Ankara had requested the extradition of six members of the PKK from Finland and 11 from Sweden).

“Ankara's statements cause concern in Sweden, among other things, because they hit exactly one of the arguments that was cited by those who did not quite agree with joining NATO, — fear that Sweden will lose the right to vote in matters of human rights and democracy, — Paul Levine, director of the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, told Al-Monitor.

“Based on the statements of the Turkish authorities, it can be assumed that Turkey will continue to insist on its position, will bargain for concessions from the two northern countries,— predicted in a conversation with RBC director of the Center for the Study of Modern Turkey, researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Amur Gadzhiev.— Will two countries go to give in, & mdash; this is a big question. We see that, on the contrary, there were marches against concessions, which indicates that the process will not be easy and it will not be easy for them to give in on these issues.

Other NATO countries no longer have leverage to influence Turkey so much, the expert notes, therefore, based on the previous experience of conflict situations involving the republic, one can expect, he believes, that a compromise option will appear, which will eventually be accepted by all parties.

According to Hajiyev, in the Turkish position, Ankara's intention to take into account Russia's negative position regarding the membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO is not traced.

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Why Russia changed its position on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union

Moscow has changed its position on Kyiv's accession to the European Union. Experts interviewed by RBC note that it is too early to talk about the real accession of Ukraine to the EU, but Moscow already refuses to see the nuances in Western policy

What was said in Russia about Ukraine's accession to the EU

Chapter Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov on Friday questioned the harmlessness of Ukraine's entry into the European Union. “This is the problem of Kyiv's relations with the European Union. But the harmlessness of such a desire of Kyiv raises serious doubts, & mdash; he said Friday in Dushanbe. He added that the EU has gone from “a constructive economic platform it was created to serve as an aggressive, militant player that is already declaring its ambitions far beyond the European continent.”

A day earlier, Russian Deputy Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky said that Moscow's position on the issue of Kyiv's entry into the European Union had changed and became similar to the position on Ukraine's entry into NATO. “I think at that time (during Russian-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul. — RBC) we were not very worried about the European Union. But the situation changed after M. Borrell's statement that “this war must be won on the battlefield.” And after the fact that the EU is the leader in the supply of arms,— Polyansky said in an interview with the British online publication UnHerd News. In March, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on Kyiv's stated desire to gain EU membership more calmly and did not link the issue to the NATO issue. «European Union— not a military-political bloc,»— pointed out then the representative of the Kremlin.

Ukraine's membership in the EU was discussed at the talks in Istanbul, and in the provisions drawn up by the Ukrainian side, Moscow was asked not to object to Ukraine's aspirations to join the EU. Since then, however, the negotiation process has practically ceased. On May 11, Peskov, commenting on the course of negotiations with the Ukrainian side, said that they were continuing “very sluggishly and ineffectively.”

What are the prospects for Ukraine's entry into the EU

On February 28, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed an application for the country's accession to the European Union, after which the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, handed him a questionnaire to start negotiations on this issue. On May 11, the European Commission confirmed that it had received answers to the questionnaire from Kyiv. The official representative of the EC, Eric Mamer, during the briefing, said that the European Commission intends to present its opinion as soon as possible, based on the answers of the Ukrainian side. According to him, this should happen in June.

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In turn, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in Strasbourg, said that the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU could take years or even decades. “Even if we grant it the status of a candidate country tomorrow— I hope we move quickly to provide it, — even if we did, we all know only too well that the accession process will take several years, in truth, it will probably take several decades. And it's true, unless we decide to lower our accession standards and rethink the unity of our Europe, and in part the principles that we adhere to, — he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that if Ukraine does not receive the status of an EU candidate country, this will mean that it has been deceived. “We're not going to put up with this,” — Kuleba said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Why Russia has changed its position

So far, it is impossible to say for sure whether there have really been fundamental changes in the Russian position on Ukraine's accession to the EU, since different points of view have been expressed regarding the interaction between Kyiv and Brussels, Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), believes. “In any case, this question is a bit theological, since at the moment we are not talking about Ukraine's entry into the European Union in full. We can only talk about including it in the number of candidate countries for entry. We must proceed from the fact that this question cannot yet be put on a practical plane,»,— he concluded.

Over the past two months, it has become clear that Russia and the EU are actually in a state of indirect war, since almost all European countries provide active military assistance to Ukraine, the editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine told RBC. Fedor Lukyanov. “European countries talk a lot about it. It was in Europe that the point of view was first voiced that Russia should be defeated on the battlefield. Accordingly, Russia decided to no longer make a difference between NATO and the European Union, and the attitude towards Ukraine's integration into any European and Euro-Atlantic structures is negative, — he said. According to Lukyanov, this has little effect on anything. “If the European Union decides to accept Ukraine in some distant future, then it will accept it. Russia clearly shows that it is no longer going to distinguish any nuances in Western politics, — he concluded.

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Vucic announced his refusal to “trample friendship in the East” on the way to the European Union

Serbia will remain militarily neutral and continue to seek EU membership, Vučić said, noting that Belgrade is guided by its own interests and will not “extinguish its friendship” with other partners under pressure

Serbia's strategic path is directed to the European Union, but the country will not, under pressure and contrary to its own interests, change its attitude towards partners in the East, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said during his address to the nation. The entry was published on the YouTube channel of the President of Serbia.

“Serbia will not trample on and extinguish its friendship that it has in the East, and it does not occur to us to do this. And I'm not interested in what force is exerting pressure, only the strength of Serbian interests can change our attitude, — explained Vucic.

He also indicated that there had been corresponding pressure in recent “weeks and months”. “Our strategic path” way to Europe, and if we can't understand that, then tell me what's the alternative,— President added.

Vučić also said that “there is no love in international relations, justice, I'm afraid to say, even less, and we must take care of our interests and the future,” the country's state television channel RTS reported. The President noted that Serbia is a militarily neutral country and intends to maintain this status, reforms will be carried out in order to “fight for a place in the family of European peoples.”

According to Ipsos Strategic, 35% of Serbs support joining the European Union, while 44% oppose it, Vučić said, noting that he understands the unpopularity of this step. “Our job is not to please public opinion, but to hear it and do what is best for the state of Serbia. My message to everyone: Serbia will be stronger on the European path, despite all these numbers,— he explained.

Read on RBC Pro Pro Who will take over the warehouse space emptied due to sanctions and the departure of players Pro Forecasts How new technologies “stole” the charisma of Starbucks . Investor's Digest Articles Pro Dangerous language: what words an employer can be fined for Instructions Pro How to register an employee remotely Instructions Pro How national characteristics affect the management model – 6 indicators Articles Pro How an accountant created India's largest bank for the poor at a cost of $ 6 billion Articles < p>At the end of February, the Serbian authorities refused to join the sanctions against Russia. Vucic then explained that official Belgrade supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but the introduction of restrictive measures against any country is not in the interests of Serbia. In mid-March, the Serbian president said that external pressure was the reason for reducing the number of flights to Russia to one per day.

At the end of the same month, he admitted that the European Union could impose sanctions against Serbia for refusing to join anti-Russian restrictive measures . “What do you want from Serbia? Impose sanctions against Russia? And why didn't you introduce gas and oil?»— he noted.

For Vučić, if he chose to join the sanctions, it would make him “number one in the world” and the media would call him “the greatest democrat.” “It costs us dearly that we have not imposed sanctions. More than you think. And if we introduced them, then it would cost us our principle, because we know that it is immoral and does not bring results, — he said in mid-April.

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India bars entry of travellers from UK, EU, Turkey

India has temporarily barred entry of travellers from United Kingdom, European Union, Turkey and European Free Trade Association from March 18. In addition, those either coming from or transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait will need to be quarantined for 14 days. Both these measures are temporary and will be in force till March 31.