(Repeat: Added the name of the President of France to Leidatz)
KYV (DPA-AFX) – Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and French President Emmanuel Macron have campaigned for Ukraine as a candidate for EU membership for the first time. “My colleagues and I came to Kyiv today with a clear message: Ukraine is part of the European family,” said Scholz during his long-awaited visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday.
Macron said: “In any case, we support Ukraine’s accession position to the European Union.” In addition to Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannes accompanied the Chancellor on this solidarity visit.
Scholz did not make any concrete commitments to deliver more weapons. “We also support Ukraine with arms supplies and we will continue to do so as long as Ukraine needs our support,” he said.
On the 113th day of the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi welcomed his guests’ candid declaration: “The candidate status of the European Union could be a landmark decision for Europe.” Ukraine applied for membership shortly after Russia’s February 24 attack.
Scholz, Macron and Draghi travel together by train overnight. Johannis had chosen a different path. Selensky was happy about Scholz’s visit. Weapons are delivered, including the ones you want. “Germany is helping us a lot here,” he said. “Yes, I am convinced that the entire German people support Ukraine.”
Macron’s open statement on EU candidate status is all the more significant given that France is currently rotating the EU Council Presidency. Draghi said at a joint press conference: “President Zelenskyy understood that candidate status is a journey and not yet the goal. A path that requires profound reforms in Ukrainian society.”
The EU Commission is expected to make a proposal in Brussels on Friday to give Ukraine clear accession options. The EU heads of state and government will discuss this at their summit (23/24) next week.
The decision on whether Ukraine will become a candidate country must be taken unanimously. Accession negotiations are complicated and usually take years.
Scholz also spoke out in favor of granting Ukraine and its smaller neighboring Republic of Moldova the status of EU accession candidates. “Germany supports a positive decision in favor of Ukraine. This also applies to Moldova,” he said.
Immediately after the quartet’s arrival, an air raid warning was issued on the Ukrainian capital, which was corrected 30 minutes later. Sirens also wailed in the afternoon at the meeting with Zelenskyy.
After his arrival, Scholz visited the partially destroyed Kiev suburb of Irpin. Similar to neighboring Buka, around 300 civilians were found there after the Russian retreat at the end of March, some of whom had been executed. Scholz denounced the “brutalism” of the Russian war of aggression and spoke of senseless violence.
Iohannis again called for Russia’s atrocities to be brought before an International Criminal Court. Draghi believes Ukraine is capable of comprehensive reconstruction. “It’s a place of destruction but also of hope,” Draghi said in Irpin.
In the first reaction, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev underestimated the visit. Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council, said politicians must travel by train as they did 100 years ago and keep EU membership and the prospect of an “old howitzer” for Ukraine. “It’s all good. But it won’t bring Ukraine any closer to peace.”
The Chancellor has always emphasized that he will only visit Kyiv if there are concrete topics for discussion. Zelenskyy is demanding more heavy weapons, and the EU approves Ukraine’s accession candidacy at its summit in Brussels next week.
One day before the Chancellor’s visit to Ukraine, the Russian state-owned company Gazprom reduced gas deliveries to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline for the second time in a row. Gazprom again justified this step with a delay in repair work. On the other hand, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Hebeck (Greens) suspects a political decision behind it.
The German Ambassador Melnick called Scholz’s visit to his country an important sign. He told the German Press Agency that Germany should quickly supply more heavy weapons, especially artillery pieces such as the Panzerhaubitz 2000 and the Mars II multiple rocket launcher.
Several heads of state and government have visited Ukraine since mid-March. The visit is undoubtedly the most important: Scholz, Macron and Draghi represent the three most populous and economically strong EU countries. All three states belong to the G7, in which democratic economic powers have come together. Germany currently chairs this group.
Selensky had invited Scholz to Kyiv a few weeks ago. Initially, however, there was outrage from the Ukrainian side because of the short-lived cancellation of a visit by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
After the irritation had dissipated, Scholz explained that such a journey is not about the symbols, but about the content: “I would not join a group of people with a photo shoot who do a little less in and out. . But when it does, it’s always about very specific things.”/mfi/bk/hoe/sam/evs/msw/mau/haw/bw/DP/stk