German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dashed hopes of Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union during the group’s Eastern Partnership summit in Latvia.
The Eastern Partnership is not an EU enlargement policy instrument, Merkel told legislators ahead of the EU summit with its Eastern European partners, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin had said earlier in an interview with German daily Die Welt that he expects the EU’s Eastern Partnership summit with six former Soviet republics to promise a visa waiver to Ukrainians from next year and to give Ukraine the promise to be a potential EU member state.
“Easing visa restrictions is only possible once all preconditions have been met,” Merkel said.
Pointing to a recent report by the European Commission on Ukraine and Georgia, Merkel said these countries’ efforts “are not yet sufficient and a lot still needs to be done” before the commission issues a fresh assessment, due at the end of this year.
Both countries need to strengthen their fight against corruption, improve their economic structure and justice systems, she said.
EU leaders will meet with their counterparts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine at the summit in Latvian capital Riga.
Merkel also said the EU’s closer cooperation with the former Soviet countries is not directed against Russia, although she warned Moscow that a thinking in influence spheres is not an appropriate approach to confront challenges of the 21st century.
She also renewed her criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s role in destabilizing eastern Ukraine.
“Not least due to these circumstances is the idea of an Eastern Partnership more important than ever,” she said.
“With this, we will continue to support our neighbors on their path toward a democratic society and a society ruled by law.”
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