Rutte: It doesn't makes sense to talk about Ukraine joining EU right now
There is little point in discussing Ukraine's accession to the European Union right now, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke out on Sunday in favor of the beleaguered Eastern European country becoming a part of the Union in the long-term.
It is "not a good discussion" to have right now, Rutte said during a debate in the Tweede Kamer. "We're not going to help Ukraine that way." Expanding the European Union is a very complex, time-consuming and complicated process, the prime minister said..
He argued for much more intensive cooperation in the short term with countries in Eastern Europe. This applies not only to Ukraine, but also to Moldova and Georgia. Cooperation can be strengthened through the Eastern Partnership that the EU has concluded with these countries, he stated.
The Prime Minister said he understood President von der Leyen's sentiment. She spoke the words shortly after a telephone interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "But I think it is currently better to focus on the shorter term," said Rutte.
He is mainly thinking about "practical solutions," he said after the debate. The 27 European leaders can have meetings with the Ukrainian president "with a certain regularity," according to the prime minister, as European Council President Charles Michel has proposed.
Zelenskyy already signed a letter on Monday in which he applied for EU membership. "Every country in Europe is free to do that," Rutte responded. "Now an incredibly bureaucratic process is beginning. It will take years." He pointed out that in his 12 years as prime minister, he has only seen one country join the EU. Croatia entered the Union as the 28th member state in 2013.
Reporting by ANP