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  •  EU leaders to set Ukraine Moldova on lengthy path to membership Membership Brussels June 23 2022 EU leaders are set to designate Ukraine and Moldova as official candidates for membership of the European Union EU at a two day summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday The highly symbolic move amid the Russian invasion came hellip
    EU leaders to set Ukraine, Moldova on lengthy path to membership
     EU leaders to set Ukraine Moldova on lengthy path to membership Membership Brussels June 23 2022 EU leaders are set to designate Ukraine and Moldova as official candidates for membership of the European Union EU at a two day summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday The highly symbolic move amid the Russian invasion came hellip
    EU leaders to set Ukraine, Moldova on lengthy path to membership
    General news2 weeks ago

    EU leaders to set Ukraine, Moldova on lengthy path to membership

    EU leaders to set Ukraine, Moldova on lengthy path to membership

     

    Membership

    Brussels, June 23, 2022 EU leaders are set to designate Ukraine and Moldova as official candidates for membership of the European Union (EU) at a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

    The highly symbolic move amid the Russian invasion came after months of lobbying from war-torn Ukraine and close neighbour,  Moldova, to start the long process of joining the 27-member bloc.

    EU accession, a politically fraught and legally complex process, could  drag on for years, with aspiring countries navigating countless milestones to be even deemed an acceptable candidates.

    Georgia applied for EU candidate status with Ukraine and Moldova but received only qualified support.

    A decision to grant the status required unanimity among EU members.

    Ukraine’s progress and the broad backing it enjoyed among EU members, including France, Germany and Italy, in view of the Russian invasion, were viewed as unprecedented.

    However, the widespread support only served to highlight frustrations simmering in Western Balkan countries about their own lack of progress.

    Threats from Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia to boycott a gathering between the EU leaders and their Western Balkan counterparts ahead of the summit embodied the impatience.

    EU member Bulgaria, had been blocking the start of EU accession talks with North Macedonia, and by extension Albania, for several years in a dispute linked to national identity, history and languages.

    EU leaders might  seek answers on Thursday in a French proposal for a new pan-European political area to bring aspiring members closer, but details remained scarce.

    On Friday, EU leaders would consider the growing economic toll of the Russian invasion, with inflation running high and energy and food costs spiking. (

    NewsSourceCredit: NAN

  •  Scholz Western Balkans efforts must lead to EU accession Accession Brussels June 23 2022 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the many efforts that have been made by the Western Balkan states must lead to accession This will be ahead of a meeting of EU leaders with their Western Balkan counterparts in Brussels For almost 20 hellip
    Scholz: Western Balkans efforts must lead to EU accession
     Scholz Western Balkans efforts must lead to EU accession Accession Brussels June 23 2022 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the many efforts that have been made by the Western Balkan states must lead to accession This will be ahead of a meeting of EU leaders with their Western Balkan counterparts in Brussels For almost 20 hellip
    Scholz: Western Balkans efforts must lead to EU accession
    Foreign2 weeks ago

    Scholz: Western Balkans efforts must lead to EU accession

    Scholz: Western Balkans efforts must lead to EU accession

    Accession
    Brussels, June 23, 2022 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the many efforts that have been made by the Western Balkan states must lead to accession.

    This will be ahead of a meeting of EU leaders with their Western Balkan counterparts in Brussels.

    “For almost 20 years, the countries and the citizens of the Western Balkans have been waiting for the opportunity to become members of the EU,’’ Scholz said.

    Scholz said that North Macedonia had even changed its name in the hope of becoming a member of the EU.

    He said that Germany would feel responsible for making sure that western Balkan countries had the opportunity to actually successfully implement their European prospects.

    Scholz said that it was of utmost importance that this became  a credible promise amid growing frustration among the region’s leaders. (

    NewsSourceCredit: NAN

  •  EU Commission backs placing Ukraine on lengthy way to membership Membership Brussels June 17 2022 The European Union Commission on Friday recommended that Ukraine and Moldova become official candidates for EU membership We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective We want them to live with us the European hellip
    EU Commission backs placing Ukraine on lengthy way to membership
     EU Commission backs placing Ukraine on lengthy way to membership Membership Brussels June 17 2022 The European Union Commission on Friday recommended that Ukraine and Moldova become official candidates for EU membership We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective We want them to live with us the European hellip
    EU Commission backs placing Ukraine on lengthy way to membership
    Foreign3 weeks ago

    EU Commission backs placing Ukraine on lengthy way to membership

    EU Commission backs placing Ukraine on lengthy way to membership

     

    Membership

    Brussels, June 17, 2022 The European Union Commission on Friday,  recommended that Ukraine and Moldova become official candidates for EU membership.

    “We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective.

    “We want them to live with us, the European dream,’’ Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference in Brussels.

    She said Ukraine should be made a candidate country on the understanding that important work also remained to be done, pointing toward numerous reforms required to meet EU standards.

    Von der Leyen said Ukraine needed to make progress in the areas of economy, strengthening the rule of law and fundamental rights and the fight against corruption and oligarchs.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that he ‘ commends’  the commission’s decision.

    “We are grateful to the EU commission,’’ Andriy Yermak, a top advisor to President Zelensky, wrote on Twitter following the announcement.

    In Moldova, von der Leyen said the country’s economy and public administration, in particular, required major improvements.

    Georgia, also aspiring to join the EU, first had to come together politically to design a clear path toward structural reform and the EU,” von der Leyen said.

    He said this before it became an official candidate issue to join the bloc.

    Ukraine applied for EU membership days after Russia launched its invasion at the end of February.

    Moldova and Georgia then also submitted their applications.

    Based on the commission’s recommendation, EU leaders now must decide how to proceed.

    A decision could already be made next week when leaders gathered for a summit in Brussels.

    But whether all 27 current member countries could  agree remained to be seen.

    Several EU leaders had expressed support for making Ukraine an official candidate for membership, while others considered such a decision as premature, according to EU diplomats.

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time,  openly expressed their support for granting EU candidate status to Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday.

    “Ukraine belongs in the European family,’’ Scholz said in Kyiv.

    Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF, Scholz said Ukrainian accession could take a very long time, but that the effort would be worth it because the prospect would give hope to Ukrainians.

    Macron said “it will probably take several decades” before Ukraine could join the bloc in a speech to the European Parliament in May.

    Last year, the European Court of Auditors issued a report on Ukraine concluding that oligarchs and vested interests continue to undermine the rule of law in Ukraine.

    It also threatened  the country’s development, an indication of the extent of the need for reform.

    Being an official candidate for membership is the first step for many in joining the EU and gives access to financial support, and social, legal and economic reforms intended to bring the country closer to EU standards.

    The next step, after being named official candidate, is the opening of formal accession talks, a step which again required the approval of all EU member countries.

    Being an official candidate or in accession negotiations did not guarantee membership.

    Currently, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey were listed as EU candidates.

    Turkey was named the official candidate in 1999, but membership talks were effectively frozen.

    Montenegro and Serbia started accession talks in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

    Albania and North Macedonia were so far waiting to enter into formal negotiations since they submitted their applications in 2009 and 2004 respectively. (

    NewsSourceCredit: NAN

  •  Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker Speaker Sofia June 16 2022 Nikola Minchev the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament has been removed from his position on Thursday He was removed after the opposition mustered enough votes against him due to accusations of violating the constitution and the parliament s rules of procedure hellip
    Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker
     Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker Speaker Sofia June 16 2022 Nikola Minchev the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament has been removed from his position on Thursday He was removed after the opposition mustered enough votes against him due to accusations of violating the constitution and the parliament s rules of procedure hellip
    Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker
    Foreign3 weeks ago

    Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker

    Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker

    Bulgarian opposition removes parliamentary speaker

    Speaker
    Sofia, June 16, 2022 Nikola Minchev, the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, has been removed
    from his position on Thursday.

    He was removed after the opposition mustered enough votes against him due to accusations of violating the constitution and the parliament’s rules of procedure.

    The move followed a hearing on North Macedonia in the plenary chamber earlier on Wednesday, which Minchev opened to the public, meaning confidential documents relating to Prime Minister Kiril Petkov could not be shared.

    The opposition feared this was an attempt to block criticism of Petkov, Minchev’s party colleague, and his stance on North Macedonia.

    Bulgaria is currently using its veto within the EU to block North Macedonia from starting the process of joining the bloc, in a dispute mainly about rights for the Bulgarian minority there.

    The documents were thought to reveal a softening in Petkov’s stance.

    Thursday’s vote saw 125 parliament members from the conservative Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and from three other parties vote for the dismissal of the 34-year-old Minchev of the We Continue the Change (PP) party.

    The government camp, which has only been in power since the end of 2021, came to only 113 votes.

    It has not had a parliamentary majority for about a week.

    Minchev’s ouster is seen as a test for the new balance of power in the Bulgarian parliament.

    meanwhile, a first motion of no confidence in Petkov’s liberal-socialist coalition, which came to power on a promise to reform the judiciary and fight corruption, was expected next week.

    The populist There Is Such a People (ITN) party of entertainer Slavi Trifonov, which was in government until last week, left the government because of differences, among other things, about North Macedonia.

    “We are heading for new elections for the fourth time in one and a half years,’’ commented Hristo Ivanov, co-chairman of the ruling Democratic Bulgaria (DB) alliance, on state television.



    NewsSourceCredit: NAN

  •  Fearful of incurring Russia s wrath over possible NATO bids Finland and Sweden have spent the last few weeks seeking assurances from NATO members that they would be protected while waiting to become full members Russia s invasion of Ukraine has swung opinion in Finland and Sweden in favor of membership of the Western military alliance after hellip
    Uneasy NATO wait ahead for Finland and Sweden
     Fearful of incurring Russia s wrath over possible NATO bids Finland and Sweden have spent the last few weeks seeking assurances from NATO members that they would be protected while waiting to become full members Russia s invasion of Ukraine has swung opinion in Finland and Sweden in favor of membership of the Western military alliance after hellip
    Uneasy NATO wait ahead for Finland and Sweden
    Foreign2 months ago

    Uneasy NATO wait ahead for Finland and Sweden

    Fearful of incurring Russia's wrath over possible NATO bids, Finland and Sweden have spent the last few weeks seeking assurances from NATO members that they would be protected while waiting to become full members.

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine has swung opinion in Finland and Sweden in favor of membership of the Western military alliance, after decades of military non-alignment.

    As a result, Stockholm and Helsinki have intensified their international contacts to seek support for their possible offers, which could be announced in the coming days.

    Everything points to a joint request, with talks in recent weeks focused on obtaining crucial security guarantees, particularly from NATO's most powerful members, according to Swedish and Finnish leaders.

    The application process requires lawmakers from all 30 NATO members to ratify a country's candidacy for membership, a procedure that can take months or even up to a year.

    During this period, the candidate countries are not covered by the NATO article 5 mutual defense agreement.

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said he is "confident we can find arrangements" to help protect the two candidates.

    In the case of Sweden, he said a "greater NATO presence and NATO forces around Sweden and the Baltic Sea" was possible.

    "If Sweden were attacked and sought our support, we would provide it," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Wednesday after signing a Political Declaration of Solidarity, including military media, with his Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson.

    A similar agreement was due to be signed in Helsinki later on Wednesday.

    “It is not as strong a guarantee as Article 5, but that is what we will get during the interim period,” Joakim Paasikivi, a lieutenant colonel who teaches military strategy at the Swedish Defense University, told AFP.

    As members of the European Union, Sweden and Finland are also covered by the bloc's mutual defense clause in Article 42-7.

    Quick process?
    Once a country has decided to apply for NATO membership, the 30 alliance members must unanimously agree to extend a formal invitation, followed by membership negotiations.

    Finland and Sweden have long cooperated with NATO, and Stoltenberg has repeatedly said they would be welcomed "with open arms."

    Therefore, this first phase could go quite quickly.

    "It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks," Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told AFP.

    The definitive approval could take place at a NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June.

    All 30 member states would then have to ratify the decision.

    "At the moment, it's hard to see any country really trying to delay or stop the process," Salonius-Pasternak said.

    However, a country could take advantage of the situation to try to gain influence on an internal problem.

    Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, for example, urged the Zagreb parliament to block the admission of Sweden and Finland until neighboring Bosnia changes an electoral law.

    The ratification process for NATO's newest member, North Macedonia, took a year.

    Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Tuesday that he believed Finland could become a full member in October at the earliest.

    russian rage
    Even before the war in Ukraine, Moscow regularly warned Finland and Sweden about the "political and military consequences" of joining NATO.

    Military strategist Paasikivi said countries could expect to see "aggressive and threatening Russian rhetoric" during the application period.

    There could also be “hybrid measures”, such as “cyber attacks, which could be more serious than before, against our countries”, targeting financial or energy infrastructures, or violations of the airspace or territorial waters of the two countries.

    However, experts consulted by AFP said that a military attack was very unlikely, given the mobilization of the Russian army in Ukraine.

    According to Salonius-Pasternak, Moscow could technically try to block the membership process.

    Russia could “stop the application process by occupying an island or land”, as countries with an ongoing conflict are barred from joining NATO.

    "This is possible, as they have recently made decisions that don't seem very rational from our perspective," Salonius-Pasternak said.

    "But I think the NATO countries would see through this and it would not be too difficult for Finland to handle it militarily."