In an interview with the Berlin daily Welt [German newspaper], Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said the war in Ukraine was “miles away from a diplomatic solution” and doubted that Moscow would give “a serious chance to diplomacy” at this time. Writes DW.
When asked by a Welt journalist what the West’s goal in Ukraine is, he unequivocally answers: “Our goal is clear: the war must stop, and Russia must re-establish Ukraine’s territorial integrity and take the steps it has taken.” “Our policy has not changed since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and that is why we have not lifted Russia’s sanctions.”.
Would Putin’s death change anything?
The German daily states that “many are asking: why not try to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin? Then the biggest instigator of war should be eliminated.”, To which the Austrian minister answers questions: yes no “, he answers and adds that such a thing is” excluded for reasons of principle “. “A targeted assassination would bring us down to Putin’s level. I categorically reject that.”
The war focuses on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. Asked by a Welt journalist whether the country should join the EU, given Kyiv’s request, the Austrian minister said: “We are waiting for the European Commission’s recommendation, which should happen in June. We must send a clear signal to Ukraine “Because, in that country, people live according to the European model and European values rule. But how it will all unfold remains to be seen. I believe that the status of a candidate for membership is not the only solution for Ukraine.”
People in the Balkans have no more illusions
Asked why, he said that the EU must be careful that the nomination of candidates for EU accession “does not remain just a label from which the population has basically had nothing for years”. In that sense, the Austrian Minister mentions the countries of the Western Balkans. “These countries were promised EU accession in 2003. It is felt how many people there have no more illusions today and how frustrated they are.”
Welt asks Schalenberg what he is proposing about the Balkans, to which he replies: “The EU must finally decide in June to open accession talks with Albania and Northern Macedonia. Bosnia and Herzegovina also needs medium-term perspectives, and people from Kosovo must be able to enter the EU without visas. We need to step up engagement in the Western Balkans and get to work. When we talk about Ukraine, we also need to talk about the Western Balkans. We need to tie the region to ourselves, otherwise, others will do it. It cannot be ruled out that Putin is also trying to destabilize the Western Balkans. ”
The author notes that it will be years before the Western Balkans join the European Union, to which the Austrian minister points out that one should therefore ask: “What will happen until then? What will the solution look like in the coming years, which people would also feel?”
Schallenberg says that gradual integration is needed, not all or nothing.
– We should jump over our own shadow and include the countries of the Western Balkans in concrete decisions on issues in the pre-accession sub-areas, if the legal conditions are met. For example, in the field of scientific research, in energy issues, in trans-European transport planning, in cohesion policy, or in certain sectors of the internal market. But it is not a substitute for the full membership of the Western Balkans in the EU. Accession is mandatory, we made that promise to the addresses of all 6 countries – said Schallenberg.
And as it should look in practice, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said in an interview with Berlin’s Welt that 27 EU countries could consult with representatives of the Western Balkans or Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia two or three hours before regular meetings.
– So that these countries could participate. They would be included in specific issues, but the decisions are ultimately made by EU countries – says Schallenberg and adds that such a model could be applied to Ukraine – “if Ukraine’s accession to the EU would happen at all, because it is still very, very a long stick. “