Poland pledges to push Ukraine into EU

Polish President Andrzej Duda said in a speech to Ukraine’s parliament that he would continue to support the country’s admission to the European Union (EU).

“I will not rest until Ukraine becomes a member of the EU,” Mr Duda announced on May 22, as he became the first foreign leader since Russia to launch a military campaign to address Ukraine’s parliament. He claimed that Ukraine must decide its future and only Ukraine can do that.

“Anxious thoughts have surfaced that Ukraine should give in to President Putin’s demands,” Duda said. “Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda addresses the Ukrainian Parliament in Kyiv on May 22.  Photo: Reuters.

Polish President Andrzej Duda addresses the Ukrainian Parliament in Kyiv on May 22. Picture: Reuters.

The Polish President reiterated that the international community should demand Russia’s complete withdrawal from Ukraine. “If Ukraine, for economic reasons or political ambitions, concedes even one inch of territory, it will be a heavy blow not only to Ukraine but to the entire western world,” he said.

Kyiv has ruled out a peace agreement with territorial concessions. Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have reached an impasse.

Ever since Russia launched its campaign in Ukraine, Warsaw has presented itself as one of Kiev’s staunchest allies. Poland is also a strong supporter of tough sanctions against Russia.

In late February, shortly after the conflict broke out, Ukraine signed an application to join the EU. Last month they completed an EU membership questionnaire, the first step in being considered for membership by the bloc. President Zelenskyy repeatedly called on the EU to allow Ukraine’s speedy accession under what he called a “new special procedure”, but did not elaborate.

According to experts, EU accession has important implications for future negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to end the conflict. EU membership could provide Ukraine with military support, as EU countries are bound by a mutual defense treaty and ask other members for help when a country “faces armed attacks” on its territory.

In addition, joining the bloc would also benefit Ukraine’s economy and bring other additional benefits to Kyiv, such as freedom of movement throughout the bloc and a range of privileges exclusively granted to EU citizens.

The EU has sent millions of euros in aid and arms to Ukraine, while EU member states have also taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine. However, the EU accession process often takes years, and the bloc is unlikely to change the rules to allow Ukraine to join quickly.

Vu Hoang (Corresponding Reuters)