President: Ukraine NATO, EU membership likely years away
Ukraine cannot become a member of NATO until its territorial integrity – disrupted since 2014 – is restored, while EU membership will take perhaps 20 years' work to achieve, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid says.
Kaljulaid told Ukrainian online portal Yevropeiska Pravda this week that: "Estonia supports the roadmap to NATO accession and Ukraine's advances to NATO, but it remains unclear when this will be possible. First, we must wait for the turn of history."
Kaljulaid had been at a summit in Kyiv, meeting with the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland while there.
Estonian volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) personnel also took part in Tuesday's Ukrainian independence day parade, in central Kyiv.
Kaljulaid added that Ukraine would not become a full-fledged member of NATO until all its occupied territories, meaning the Crimean peninsula, occupied by the Russian Federation since 2014, had been taken back. The ongoing insurgency war in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine also began in 2014.
As to the EU, Kaljulaid said that not only Ukraine, but also Georgia and Moldova failed to meet the criteria for membership, at present.
She said: "There are a lot of conditions for joining the EU, and frankly, none of these countries meet the membership criteria. All three have concerns with the courts. You do not meet the requirements for EU membership."
Some type of "intermediate stage" on the way to European integration would benefit these lands, the president added.
For the EU's part, it should also be bolder in expanding its borders, she said, adding the union could offer Kyiv, Tbilisi and Chisinau a new working format for countries aspiring to EU membership, or full membership, but that this would take "a lot of time".
Kaljulaid had also meet with Moldovan president Maia Sandu while in Kyiv, the president's office reported on its website.
Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia are members of the EU's Eastern Partnership (EaP) program, along with the union itself.
Part of the EaP's stated aims are building a common area of shared values of democracy, prosperity, stability, and increased cooperation.
Belarus' EaP membership has been suspended.
The Baltic and Polish presidents issued a statement Monday condemning the violation of human rights in Belarus, and the deteriorating situation on that country's border with the EU, namely Lithuania, Poland and Latvia.
Estonia joined both NATO and the EU in 2004.
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Andrew Whyte