Prodi Kiwi Jibe 'Does Not Exclude Ukraine Membership'

Article excerpt

Prodi says no membership for Ukraine.

In the newspaper interview, Mr Prodi said he sees no reason for Ukraine, Moldova or Morocco to become EU members. He added that Russia is "too big" to join the bloc. Mr Shpek and Mr Chalyi were insistent on Ukraine's European credentials and aspirations, with the latter maintaining that no statements from Mr Prodi can exclude Ukraine from EU membership. Russia, he said, had received a clear message, but Ukraine had not been excluded. Nevertheless, in the context of Ukraine's European integration efforts, it would be better to have "no message" if it is "impossible to give us a good message now". The two diplomats suggested that Brussels officials were being forced to give careful messages as the EU strives to finalise the current wave of EU enlargement. (Mr Prodi had already said in Italian newspaper La Stampa that "Russia, Ukraine and Mediterranean countries such as Israel can never become members of the EU" - but Mr Shpek attributed this to timing - just before the Irish Nice Treaty referendum).

MEPs critical of latest Prodi 'gaffe'.

MEPs have expressed "deep concern" over Mr Prodi's apparent exclusion of Ukraine and Moldova from the prospect of EU membership. In a letter sent (during a visit to Belarus) to Mr Prodi and copied to External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, members of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus say that denying the European aspirations of Ukraine and Moldova, in particular, could severely disturb the reform process and endanger vulnerable democratic and civil developments in these countries. The MEPs express the hope that the Commission will soon present a more balanced and more open view of the relations with the EU's post-enlargement 'new neighbours'. MEP Charles Tannock (also a member of the delegation), speaking at the November 28 EastWest Institute conference on Ukraine, said that Mr Prodi's comments had been one of his "all too frequent gaffes".

-- DELEGATION TO THE PARLIAMENTARY COOPERATION COMITTEES

EU-UKRAINE AND EU-MOLDOVA AND DELEGATION FOR RELATIONS WITH BELARUS

Mr Romano PRODI Minsk, 28 November 2002

President of the European Commission

Brussels

Fax: +32-2-296 50 09

Dear Mr Prodi,

It is with great concern that we have taken note of your remarks on the frontiers of the European Union, as they were quoted in yesterday's issue of the Dutch newspaper "De Volkskrant". From these remarks one might conclude that countries like Ukraine and Moldova will be completely excluded from a possible future membership of the European Union.

We would like to stress that the European Parliament has, on the basis of article O of the Treaties of the European Union, always stressed that every European country may become member of the EU if it fulfils the necessary political, economic and legal criteria. It must also be stressed that both of the above mentioned countries are truly part of the European continent and its history and have also stated their explicit ambition to become in the future a member of the European Union.

It is in particular with a view to this European ambition that both Ukraine and Moldova are definitely engaged in a process of political and economic reform, which is based on the European Union's values of respect for fundamental human rights and the establishment of a pluralistic political system and respect for the rule of law.

A concrete refusal of future EU membership and therefore a denial of their European aspirations might severely disturb the reform process in these countries and could endanger vulnerable democratic and civil developments.

The Commission has announced that it will soon present a communication about the relations with those countries, which will become the EU's new neighbours after completion of the present enlargement process. …