In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Yasser Nooralivand called the acceptance of Ukraine and Moldova’s candidacy request for membership in the European Union a geopolitical category and added: Whenever the geopolitical element becomes prominent in the strategy of the European Union, they look more seriously at the issue of expansion. Regarding the expansion to the East in the European Union, the geopolitical view is always preferable to the economic and technical view, and the technical and economic terms of membership are examined in the next step, but they do not ignore them either.
He stated that after formation of the European Union, three periods of Eastward expansion have been passed, and in recent years, Europe’s geopolitical perspective has become less and more focused on internal challenges, adding: After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the geopolitical outlook has once again returned to the top of Europe’s strategic agenda and they are speaking about geopolitical awakening in this period. As Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union in Foreign Policy, while emphasizing the necessity of geopolitical awakening, stated that territorial threats caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine and its view of Eastern Europe are more serious than in the past, and if it is ignored, “maybe in the coming years we will have to fight with Russia in the heart of Europe.”
Nooralivand stated that the European Union’s decision to review the membership of Ukraine and Moldova in the Union is political and symbolic, and noted: One of the messages of this decision was to show the solidarity of Brussels with the nation and government of Ukraine to resist against Russia, which reminded them that they are part of the European Union and the prospect of this membership is clear after following its path; therefore resist against Russia.
He continued: As the European officials also announced, this measure is a strong message to Russia with the context that Europe not only does not back down against Moscow, but also expands its territory to the borders of that country and tries to make Ukraine and Moldova and other requesting countries members in the Union.
Difficulties on path of new members joining the EU
The member of the Institute of Strategic Studies, saying that if Ukraine and Moldova could meet the conditions of the European Union, they would definitely become members of the European Union, emphasized: The states that want to join the European Union should meet the conditions set forth in Article 49 of the Treaty establishing the European Union, as well as the so-called criteria known as the European standards.
He explained: Based on those criteria, being democratic, respecting human rights indicators, creating a free market financial system, accepting the laws of the Euro currency and aligning with the financial laws of the European Union, compatibility with environmental laws, issues of justice and residence and relocation will be considered. Although the membership path of those two countries has become smoother than in the past, they are required to make significant reforms in those cases.
Nooralivand stated that Ukraine and Moldova are far from the European Union standards in the current situation and they must meet them, adding: The president of Ukraine has asked Brussels to speed up the process of Ukraine’s accession by adopting a special approach, considering the special conditions, but the distance that this country has with European standards, which includes the approval of several thousand resolutions and very strict executive laws, is a big obstacle in this process and even if emergency conditions prevail, the rules do not allow this membership to happen quickly. Therefore, accelerating the review of their membership has only a propaganda dimension against Russia.
Recalling that there were previous objections from the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Portugal for the candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova for membership in the European Union, he clarified: Those countries will definitely have a lot of strictures to continue the membership process and membership in the European Union requires the agreement of all the current members which happen to disagree on many issues.
Strict EU standards
The European affairs expert, saying that under normal conditions, even after meeting all the standards, it takes at least two years to become a member of the European Union, he pointed to Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union and added: If the European Union were to make concessions, it would remove the two-year period after meeting the standards, and at that stage they would act quickly, but it is unlikely that the European Union falls short of its standards; because after 10 Central and Eastern European countries joined the European Union, Europe was involved in a financial crisis shortly in 2008 and 2009, which lasted until 2014.
Nooralivand explained: One of the reasons for the prolongation of the crisis in the European Union was that European standards were not considered for the membership of those 10 countries, and if those things were considered, Europe could have come out of the crisis at a lower cost and enter economic growth by quickly passing through the recession. It is natural that even now, using that experience, the member states of the Union will not allow those standards to be influenced by political priorities.
By reminding that if from a geopolitical point of view, Ukraine and Moldova do not join Russia in a military process, they may meet European standards in the medium and long term and become a member of the Union, he referred to the protests in some European countries that are waiting to join the European Union, and said: There are other countries that have already met the membership candidature conditions, but Europe does not deal with them with such haste and does not even go to their files.
Nooralivand continued: Seven other countries are still waiting to join the European Union. This decision has created a discriminatory view and has put the governments of some European countries against their people.