By Burc Eruygur
ISTANBUL (AA) - Estonia’s foreign minister said on Monday that it is "easier" to become a NATO member in comparison to obtaining full membership to the EU
“According to objective criteria, becoming a NATO member is, of course, easier. It is interesting how quickly Ukraine is now turning to NATO standards, life itself dictates this,” Urmas Reinsalu said during an interview with Ukrainian news agency RBC-Ukraine.
Ukraine is seeking to become a full member in both structures amid the Moscow-Kyiv war.
During the interview, Reinsalu said that while Ukraine has taken major steps rapidly, the political aspect with regards to Ukraine’s membership is also crucial and that the upcoming NATO Summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July 2023 is important in sending a clear message about further actions by the alliance, rather than indicating rhetoric.
“(Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy signed an application to join NATO. This is an objective reality. NATO must also respond to this. Of course, no one says that during the current war, Ukraine will become a full member of NATO. These are the realities of security,” Reinsalu said.
With regards to Ukraine’s membership to the EU before the end of the Moscow-Kyiv war, Reinsalu said that he believes the negotiations on this matter should not be related to the conflict, as such a case would mean Russia has a “veto” on the process.
“If we remember, it was his (Russian President Vladimir Putin) main demand not to let Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic structures. If we say that everything will be frozen, that all these achievements and processes will be frozen until the end of the war, then in a sense, Putin will psychologically get what he wanted,” Reinsalu said.
He also noted that it took Estonia more than seven years to join the EU after it received candidate status, saying that he believes the efforts made by Ukraine could shorten this time frame in the case of Kyiv, but that membership discussions would revolve around years rather than months.
“This is a political decision. How was it a political decision to grant you candidate status last June. It is one thing - objective criteria, and I am sure that Ukraine, with its determination, will fulfill all of them, the seven goals that have been named. Then it will move on to making political decisions. Among some European countries there is a hidden or open indecision in this sense. And it's not even specifically about Ukraine, but about the expansion of the EU as such,” he added.
The European Commission issued its opinion on the application of Ukraine's EU membership on June 17 last year, after which the European Council granted Kyiv candidacy status.
Last December, Ukraine’s parliament adopted several bills recommended by the European Commission to further the country's EU accession process.