How long could Ukraine’s road be until it joins the European Union? And how would not stopping Putin in Ukraine affect European security? Conversation with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishin.
European leaders have made a historic decision to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. What will it take for Ukraine to join the European Union? How much time might be needed and how much homework should Ukraine do?
Thank you very much, it was really a historic moment for all Ukrainians, which gave a very clear signal. It boosted our self-confidence and brought a lot of positive energy to people who have to live in war conditions and made the European Union stronger.
We have a long road ahead of us. I think that compared to all other countries that have experienced this process, which is difficult, complicated and politically complicated, Ukraine has to face even bigger problems. We have to be able to survive as a country. We must fight against the aggressor, be strong in the geopolitical arena.
Joining the European Union will be a success story. We will do whatever it takes to make it happen. And nothing will be too difficult for us to achieve this goal.
Latvia joined the European Union 20 years ago. Can Latvia’s experience be useful for Ukraine?
Definitely. We have had very detailed discussions about this with your Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Speaker of the Saeima.
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We have agreed that our teams will work together to involve Latvia’s best specialists who helped your country join the European Union and NATO.
Speaking of the upcoming US presidential election, how worried are you that Donald Trump could become president again? The Republican Party he represents is blocking financial aid to Ukraine.
I believe that the bottom line is the agreement that the Democrats and Republicans need to reach. The decision has to be made in one of the hottest moments of the pre-election campaign. If this decision had been made at the end of last year, I don’t think emotions would have been so heated about it.
Everything is much clearer to the Ukrainians than to the Democrats and Republicans, and also to the Americans – the war is not over yet, and most likely it will not be over when the elections are over and the new president of the United States is chosen.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, Ukraine must survive. Every day we must be one step closer to victory, restoration of international order and justice for the victims of war crimes. And we will do everything to achieve it.
There is widespread concern that Russia could attack even NATO. What is your vision? Should NATO prepare for a possible war with Russia?
I think the era of denial is over. In all the NATO meetings that Ukraine has participated in, and every time we have talked about Ukraine’s membership in NATO, the main concern has been that it would annoy Russia. That Russia would start a war that would involve NATO.
Now the situation has changed. I know that the Baltic countries, some of the Eastern European countries, even Germany, are modeling this scenario. This means that the leaders of the countries now understand that there are no effective elements that would deter Russia at the moment. I think the Allies are in a very serious situation right now.