BUDVA – Ukraine will become a member of NATO and the EU when the necessary conditions are met, which were not fulfilled before the NATO Summit in Vilnius. After the end of the war, the foundations for peace will be established, and guarantees will be provided to Ukraine that the events of 2014 and 2022 will not be repeated. This is the conclusion of the Peacekeepers panel: Summit in Vilnius – Perspective and NATO Path Forward at today’s 2BS Forum.
Benedeta Berti, Head of Policy Planning in the NATO Secretary General’s Office, said that today the Alliance is stronger than ever.
There are adaptations being made, both militarily and politically, which were further strengthened in 2022. The Alliance is more united and stronger than it has been for a long time. Now, you have Finland, which is already a member, and Sweden, which we believe will soon become a member of NATO. It will be an Alliance of 32 countries that share common values. This will increase the strength of the Alliance, and we will be safer and more secure, said Berti on the panel dedicated to the conclusions of the Vilnius Summit.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that his country is not in a hurry to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership because they often hear harsh qualifications about their own country from Sweden.
We have submitted the Draft Verification of Swedish membership; it is a proposal. The reason why ratification has not yet taken place is that it is decided by lawmakers who have been in parliament for over two decades, and it is their job to improve the lives of the electorate. After 20 years in parliament, they listen to accusations that what they are doing is undemocratic, autocratic, dictatorial, and that is an insult. When Sweden, on the one hand, encourages us to ratify the agreement but we don’t hear anything without being accused of being autocrats and behaving dictatorially, then we get this result. Don’t do that, I told them. Find a way to restore respect in our relationship. If Sweden is willing to bring relations back to the field of mutual respect, lawmakers will speed up the ratification process, said Szijjártó.
Speaking about Ukraine’s NATO membership, the Hungarian minister emphasized that only after the war ends can the foundation for peace be built.
Today, the chance for peace is worse than yesterday. If we don’t stop it, there will be more destruction. The principle of territorial integrity is mandatory, and there is no compromise on that, but we need to stop the war and destruction, Szijjártó stated.
When asked about his relations with Milorad Dodik, Szijjártó said that whenever they gather in the EU to discuss the Western Balkans many complain about the influence of these actors. He finds it shocking to talk about 2030 as the year of enlargement.
I don’t want to comment on Dodik or support his intentions, but when we talk about Balkan leaders, we have to say that he is the elected leader of that country. It’s the result of elections that you can’t dispute. You have to talk to leaders, discuss with him, but 2030 as the year for integration is a late date. By then, someone else will enter the game, he said.
Stefano Stefanini, Senior Adviser at the PA Group Brussels, former Permanent Representative of Italy to NATO, and Diplomatic Adviser to the President of Italy, stated that Ukraine will join the EU and NATO when the conditions are met.
The conditions were not met at the time of the summit. Some conditions are of a technical nature and can be achieved. Can NATO accept a country at war without applying Article 5, which would lead other members into a war? Stefanini asked. He mentioned that additional conditions are needed, but the question is how to address the issue of war.
In my opinion, this can be done as soon as there is not just peace but also a ceasefire. This is something that will be achieved quickly once the war ends, and at the same time, credible guarantees must be given to Ukraine that what happened in 2014 or 2022 will not be repeated. In this sense, Ukraine should be offered guarantees under Article 5, Stefanini assessed.
Gergana Karadzhova, General Director for Political Affairs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, stated that allies have doubled their efforts to strengthen the NATO structure. She reminded that Bulgaria hosted a multinational group, and their efforts to create stability have been recognized.
Kajsa Ollongren, Minister of Defense of the Netherlands, speaking from The Hague, emphasized that what is essential is that Ukraine will eventually become a member.
It will become a member, and that’s not a question. We must be aware every day that Ukraine is participating in this war, that it is fighting, that we have innocent victims every day, Ollongren said.
She mentioned that after the Vilnius Summit, the allies agreed to meet within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Council.
We have signed a statement within the G7, which reiterates our commitment to providing support to Ukraine, through assistance, transitioning of armed forces, which is crucial for future development because strong armed forces will still be needed after the war. It’s important that we remain united in providing support and finding solutions ready to provide assistance in terms of training, providing ammunition. Actions speak louder than words – let’s show solidarity with Ukraine through actions. Concrete steps are what make a difference on the battlefield, the Dutch minister said.