Austrian Chancellor: Inconceivable Ukraine gets EU candidate status and not BiH

Karl Nehammer (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Wednesday that there should be no double standards or first and second-class EU membership candidates, adding that "it would be inconceivable for Ukraine to receive the candidate status, while at the same time keep countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina out of it."

Nehammer stated that Ukraine is part of the European family and that “Austria, as a militarily neutral country, supports Ukraine as much as possible in the fight against the Russian aggression, as well as in their efforts to end the war.”

He also spoke about the candidate status for the EU.

“As for the possible candidate status for the EU, I would like to stress that there are clear and already established criteria, which should be adhered to without any ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. There must be no double standards, or first and second-class candidates. We must ensure that the same criteria are applied as in other Western Balkan countries seeking candidate status. In this regard, it would not be conceivable to me for Ukraine to be granted candidate status, while at the same time keeping countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina out of it. We must not provoke false expectations in Ukraine either, because the enlargement process is complex and long-lasting,” the Austrian Chancellor said.

Therefore, Nehammer continued, there is an urgent need to consider intermediate steps in the accession process, such as the “single European Preparatory Area for Membership.”

“This preparatory area should not be a substitute for the accession process, but it should go in parallel and facilitate the approximation to EU standards. Austria has already presented concrete ideas to the EU, as did President Macron his idea of a ‘European political community,’ which I support. In any case, we will continue to play an active role in the discussion process,” said Chancellor Nehammer.

Bosnia’s candidate status was supported by Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

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