The European Union Affairs Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) approved Estonia’s positions and supported by consensus granting Ukraine a clear accession perspective and the status of a candidate state of the European Union at their extraordinary sitting today.
Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Siim Kallas noted that Estonia had always supported Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. “Now that the country is fighting not only for its own freedom and survival, but also for the whole Europe, granting this perspective is even more important. We have to send Ukraine a clear signal that they are welcome in the European Union,” Kallas said. He added that Ukraine and the majority of the population of the country had expressed the wish to join the European Union.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson recalled that on 23 February, the Riigikogu adopted the Statement in which it called on the member states to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate state of the European Union and a roadmap to membership in NATO. Mihkelson noted that getting the status of a candidate state would be a great help to Ukrainians in the face of Russian aggression. “It is important that the EU supports Ukraine in its preparations for EU membership. Estonia is ready to share its experience of accession to the EU and support Ukraine in their accession process to the EU,” Mihkelson said.
The positions approved by the Committees also highlight that Estonia considers it important that the European Union would quickly agree on the next specific and ambitious steps on Ukraine’s path towards EU integration.
Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee Henn Põlluaas underlined that Ukraine’s NATO membership should also be supported and a proposal should be made for discussing it. “Ukraine is a European country, a strategically important country, and their security matters to everyone. The Ukrainians have shown that they are not afraid to fight against Russia, and already only this proves that Ukraine deserves to be a NATO member country,” Põlluaas said.
Ukraine submitted an application for EU membership on Monday. After that, the Presidents of nine Member States adopted a Joint Statement in support of granting the status of a candidate state to Ukraine. On Tuesday, the European Parliament endorsed the need to give Ukraine a clear EU perspective.
It was noted at the sitting that giving Ukraine the EU accession perspective and the status of a candidate state must be in line with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, and that becoming a member state was a complex and time-consuming process. The precondition for becoming a member is that the candidate state has stable institutions ensuring democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and national minorities, as well as a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and the pressure of market forces within the European Union. In order to become a Member State, the candidate state has to be able to take on the obligations arising from membership, including the fulfilment of the objectives of political, economic and monetary union.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets participated in the sitting and gave an outline of the positions approved by the Government yesterday. The European Union Affairs Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu decided to support the positions. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will ask the leaders of the EU to support granting the status of a candidate state to Ukraine also at the meeting of the EU heads of state and government held in France next week.