Bit of contradiction?’ Zelensky savaged as Ukraine should focus on war instead of EU

Ukraine needs an 'urgent' reconstruction agenda says expert

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is edging closer to his long-held dream of joining the European Union. In a show of solidarity, all the European leaders agreed to hand the country the candidate status – the first in a series of convoluted steps to becoming an EU member state. However, as the war is raging with Russia taking control of parts of the coveted Donbas region, President Zelensky should concentrate his effort on pushing back Russian troops instead of pulling his weight behind a European application, an EU expert says.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Emmanuel Dupuy, President of the Institute of Prospective and Security in Europe (IPSE) said: “The toughest question is this one: do the Ukrainians have the capacity – administrative capacity, financial capacity – to cope on the one hand with the reconstruction process.

“President Zelensky said that more or less what was needed was between €600-700billion for reconstruction – and on the other hand have a budget allocated to comply with the standards?”

In its application process, Ukraine faces the uphill battle of abiding by the Copenhagen criteria – a set of rules ranging from human rights to rule of law.

Mr Dupuy said: “In terms of law, in terms of rule of law, in terms of universal values based on democracy and of course – among the biggest piece – there is the independence of justice, which is political independence, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, not to mention the fight absolutely delicate and absolutely at this point not relevant of corruption.

“So, can Ukraine comply with the two agendas at the same time. Going fast to enter the European Union but taking time to defend its territory. That’s the trick.

“Isn’t there a bit of a contradiction?

“Should we not instead of granting a rapid process to Ukraine say it will come later.

“What is needed now is to find a capacity to find an agenda, an organisation that will help Ukraine to reconstruct, who will help Ukraine to have the military capacity to defend its territory.”

Mr Dupuy said: “That, I think, is more urgently needed than, let’s say, a prospect or promise of ‘you are European’.

“Everyone knows that they are – and we consider them – Europeans.”

President Zelensky’s Government have already shown signs of targeting their efforts on reconstruction.

During the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland on Monday, President Zelensky estimated the cost of reconstruction at around $750billion – up from $600-700billion in early May in part due to Russian advances.

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And his Government are starting to explore diverse income sources. His Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that “we believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs.”

He also stressed that “the Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it.”

“It is a common task of the whole democratic world,” President Zelensky said, insisting that the “reconstruction of Ukraine is the biggest contribution to the support of global peace.”

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