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According to this source, Austria's foreign minister said that Ukraine shouldn't be given full EU membership:

While Schallenberg supports stronger relations between Europe and Ukraine, he doesn't support the full membership of Ukraine.

The same information is also reported by the Jerusalem Post:

Ukraine should not be offered European Union membership, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said last week at a European media summit, Pravda reported.

This seems rather strange because:

What is the point of mentioning Austria's non-support for Ukraine EU member at this moment?

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  • Is FM foreign minister? Also did he make this statement in his official capacity or just as a private opinion? The title asks about Austria but the statement might well only be valid for a single Austrian. There are approximately 9 million more Austrians and surely some of them will not support the full membership of Ukraine but many others will. Apr 24, 2022 at 19:31
  • @Trilarion I have managed to find a source that mentions the context for the statement. The context seems to be an official one, so I guess it is not a personal opinion, but rather in his official capacity.
    – Alexei
    Apr 24, 2022 at 20:20
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    "As for why Ukraine shouldn't receive EU candidate status this June, Schallenberg pointed to states in the Western Balkans that are currently joining talks for EU accession."
    – xngtng
    Apr 24, 2022 at 20:41
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    We don't have full context of the statement. It would be better if there is a transcript or video to determine what the Austrian foreign minister is saying. Based on our limited information, it could be just an off-the-cuff comment on how he would "prefer" the situation to be handled, rather than that being Austrian govenrment's official position. Apr 25, 2022 at 5:02
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    He might also be saying loud what others are just thinking -- that Ukraine is publicly treating anything less than unconditional, unlimited support as a hostile act. There are other wars, other disasters on the globe, they don't come with a fast lane to structural cohesion funds, common agricultural policy, and the Four Freedoms of the Single Market.
    – o.m.
    Apr 25, 2022 at 6:06

7 Answers 7

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While there seems to be some kind of "Ukraine hype" because of the war many forget that in some points Ukraine is not much better then Russia. One of this points is corruption and this is not my opinion, this what a German opposition leader Friedrich Merz, who is definitely not a friend of Russia, is saying:

Friedrich Merz: Please no corrupt Ukraine in the EU

Since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, there has been increasing debate about joining the EU. CDU leader Friedrich Merz is hesitant.

CDU federal chairman Merz has been rather cautious about Ukraine's possible accession to the EU. In an interview with the broadcaster n-tv, he warned not to let the war overshadow everything on this issue. "We have a veritable war in Ukraine," said Merz. If Ukraine were a member of the EU, the assistance agreement would take effect. The EU would be obliged to deliver arms to the war zone. The agreement stipulates that in the event of a military attack, both states will consult and look for ways to provide assistance.

"The EU accession process is complex for a reason," Merz continued. The rule of law principles that would be applied when examining possible EU accession should also apply to Ukraine. The EU does not want to "see the Ukraine that we had before, namely the one with oligarchs and with great corruption". There is certainly still a lot to do, according to the CDU federal chairman.

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According to news reports, he was thinking of the other membership aspirants in the Balkans who had been ahead of Ukraine in the queue and should not be forgotten even 'with the proper focus on Ukraine' now. He also made the connection between the Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova applications, which sould be treated similarly in his view.

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    I think you need to update this answer - according to Fox they want Ukraine to be "neutral" and not join EU at all. See also Prvada that states it too: The Austrian edition of Heute also quotes Schellenberg as saying that Ukraine, in principle, should not become a member of the EU, even in the future. He called for a" different path " for Ukraine than full membership.. According to the minister, there should also be other models than Ukraine's accession to the EU.
    – sfxedit
    Dec 21, 2023 at 0:29
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    Even the source you cited says: A connection of a state like Ukraine does not necessarily have to happen through a full membership.. pleading for states such as Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine to create "tailor-made offers of the closest possible connection" to the European Union. He could imagine, for example, a system in which these states are fully involved in concrete areas such as energy, transport and the internal market, without being a formal member of the EU. In other words, they want Ukraine to be "neutral" by not joining EU, but establish economic relations in specific areas with EU
    – sfxedit
    Dec 21, 2023 at 0:37
  • @sfxedit, my answer is more than a year old. The current position of Austria is not the same as the one back then, and a new answer would have to be to a new (not just edited) question. Also, There are different voices in the internal political debate, e.g. FPÖ vs ÖVP.
    – o.m.
    Dec 21, 2023 at 7:19
  • And I too have cited sources that are a year old. And your own source. So it's not as if I am quoting a new position. Without clarifying that Austria thinks it better for Ukraine to be neutral, and prove that by not joining EU, your answer is incomplete.
    – sfxedit
    Dec 21, 2023 at 12:44
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The point of mentioning Austria's non-support for Ukraine EU member at this moment is in complete alignment with Austria's position regarding Russian sanctions, see below. The point is in expressing enough opposition to Ukraine and enough support of Russia in order to preserve the current level of imports of gas and oil from Russia to Austria, which depends on these imports. The statement is also in line with Austria complying with Russian demands of payment for the gas in rubles.

REFERENCES:

LUXEMBOURG — Austria’s finance minister Monday ruled out any EU sanctions that target oil and gas coming from Russia.

“We are very much dependent on the Russian gas, and I think all sanctions that hit us more than the Russians wouldn’t be good for us,” Magnus Brunner told reporters ahead of a Eurogroup gathering of eurozone peers in the Grand Duchy. “That’s why we’re against the sanctions in the oil and gas.” [...]

The EU has already smacked Moscow with four rounds of sanctions, and talks are underway to introduce a fifth package amid reports of Russian soldiers executing civilians in Ukrainian towns they hold.

Brunner described the reports as “extremely horrible” but said “you have to stay cool” when it comes to sanctions. But Vienna is happy to continue targeting Russian individuals, he said.

“If the sanctions hit yourself more than the other one, I don’t think that’s the right way to go,” Brunner said.

Bjarke Smith-Meyer: Austria rejects sanctions against Russian oil, gas. April 4, 2022: https://www.politico.eu/article/austria-rejects-sanctions-against-russian-oil-gas/


VIENNA, April 27. /TASS/. The Austrian side, represented by Austrian oil and gas company OMV, accepted Russia's conditions for paying for Russian gas supplies in rubles by opening an account with a Russian bank, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Wednesday.

"We, that is, OMV, accepted the terms of payment, as did the German government. The terms were found to be in line with the terms of the sanctions. This was important for us," he said at a press conference.

The Chancellor drew attention to the fact that Poland and Bulgaria refused to pay for Russian gas under the rubles mechanism, and therefore faced problems with the supply of this type of fuel from Russia.

TASS, April 27, 2022. Austria accepts terms of payment for Russian gas in rubles — Chancellor: https://tass.com/economy/1443877

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The reason is most likely the same as that expressed by the Danish Foreign Ministry, who called on the European Union not to “lower the bar” for the sake of Ukraine.

Denmark supports EU membership for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and the western Balkans but "geopolitical circumstances" did not justify skating over governance reforms, Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told the Financial Times on Thursday.

The EU risks "importing instability" if it relaxes its standards on democracy and corruption to hasten the accession of Ukraine and other candidate countries, Rasmussen said in an interview with the newspaper.

To join the EU, a country has to align its laws with many EU standards ranging from climate to labour. That process usually takes many years.

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Handing out complete EU membership package immediately after the war may appear for some too risky. Hence the suggestion is to give something more tuned that can be given faster.

For an ordinary person, most attractive aspect of EU membership is the right to work in Europe. Ukrainians have this already, they just need more permanent status.

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This is a widespread opinion in Austria. The leader of the opposition Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), Herbert Kickl, also holds this opinion. Although FPO is described as a right-wing party, unlike most parties with the same description in other EU, FPO is established in Austria and even involved governments. FPO even almost succeeded in appointing the president. Kickl said, among other things

"Wanting to admit a country in the middle of a war into the EU is an act of political madness," Kickl was quoted as saying in an FPO statement.

The German politician said that the "Brussels elite" dragged the EU and Austria into an economic war incompatible with the country's neutrality. With the Austrian economy and prosperity already crumbling, Ukraine's accession to the EU "would mean its [Austria's] direct involvement in this war," he stressed.

"Therefore, the federal government must veto these irresponsible plans for the sake of our indefinite neutrality and the security of our population," Kickl emphasized, adding that the FPO would submit a motion to the parliament at the earliest opportunity.

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  • But isn't he in the opposition? Why would the government's opinion depend on what the opposition thinks? Also note that the question is two years old. The debate about s possible EU membership of Ukraine has continued a lot since then. Mar 3 at 20:19
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This minister is not the only one who holds this opinion. It is clear to many that Ukraine does not meet the requirements for joining the EU. The false promises of quick EU accession could even be counterproductive. Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, among others, holds such an opinion. He said in an interview with Politico Ukraine is totally corrupt.

“Anyone who has had anything to do with Ukraine knows that this is a country that is corrupt at all levels of society. Despite its efforts, it is not ready for accession; it needs massive internal reform processes,” Juncker said during an interview with German outlet Augsburger Allgemeine published Thursday.

“Making false promises” to Ukrainians regarding EU accession “would be neither good for the EU nor for Ukraine,” added Juncker, who was boss at the Berlaymont in Brussels from 2014 to 2019.

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