"Russia-friendly Serbia moving toward EU - Ukraine can't?"

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius has asked why Ukraine is unable to move closer to the EU, while Serbia can.

Source: Beta

The Beta agency reported this on Tuesday, citing the US website Politico.

Linkevicius thinks the organization's enlargement policy, i.e., "the EU membership perspective," lacks "a certain balance - countries (like Ukraine) that share our values and policies should have it."

In what the website said were "comments directed at Serbia," the Lithuanian minister said:

"Some countries enjoy enlargement negotiations, while conducting military exercises with Russia near our borders, while other, highly motivated countries, with consolidated public support, facing sovereignty and military threats are not even given membership perspective (...) people died for the possibility to have a European choice and we are about to kill the whole eastern partnership policy by our own hesitation. Our decisions should be based on common goals, not internal politics."

Beta said that "a number of EU member-states" are opposed to giving Ukraine a green light "for the prospect of EU membership" - and the statement of the Lithuanian official was "an expression of dissatisfaction of the Baltic countries, and partly Poland and some Scandinavian member-states, over Serbia's refusal to accept EU's policy of sanctions against Russia."

EU's diplomats in Brussels told Beta earlier, the agency is reporting, that Serbia has "lost favor, especially of the Baltic countries, due to its expressly friendly relations with Russia" - who then noted that Croatia, "although fraught with serious economic problems and problems in the judiciary" jointed the EU "thanks to the support, especially Germany, and Austria" - whereas Serbia "has no real sponsors."

Sources in Brussels had no comment on Linkevicius' statement, the news agency continued - "but it is assessed that this does not represent a wider stance within the EU, all the more so since as the chair of the EU - Estonia - is clearly in favor of continuing the policy of admitting new members into the union."

At the same time, the majority in the EU "thinks that Serbia should, after all, gradually, and when it comes to the threshold of membership, align itself with EU's common foreign and security policy."

However, the Lithuanian minister took the stance that the EU is conducting an unbalanced policy of expansion - and that it would end up "killing its entire Eastern neighborhood policy through hesitation."

Linkevicius added that EU's decisions "must be guided by common goals, rather than internal policies" - by which he "aimed at the strong resistance, especially of the Netherlands - rejected in a referendum in that country - to the EU approving Ukraine's perspective of membership."

The outcome of the referendum means that the Netherlands was against the EU providing "some military assistance to Ukraine" in the event of the Ukrainian crisis turning into "an even wider armed conflict with Russia."

The association agreement between the EU and Ukraine had to be ratified by all member states, and the referendum's outcome led the Dutch government into a crisis. In order for the agreement to be ratified in parliament regardless - the Dutch government asked, and received from EU leaders a written confirmation that the deal "does not represent an obligation to grant Ukraine the status of candidate for EU membership."

The controversy over this came to the fore during the final adoption of the EU-Ukraine association agreement a few days ago at the Ukraine-EU summit in Kiev, "during a debate about whether the agreement contains a proposal to explicitly support the membership perspective for Ukraine."

The preamble of the agreement, however, contains the position that "the European Union takes note of Ukraine's European aspirations and welcomes its European commitment", as pointed out by European Council President Donald Tusk.

The agreement also states that Ukraine must be "committed to building a deep and sustainable democracy and market economy... and the rule of law."


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