Juncker Says Ukraine Not Likely To Join EU, NATO For 20-25 Years

It will take Ukraine at least 20 to 25 years to join the European Union and NATO, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said March 3.

“Ukraine will definitely not be able to become a member of the EU in the next 20 to 25 years, and not of NATO either,” he said in a speech at The Hague.

While Juncker did not explain why Ukraine would have to wait so long, his speech was aimed at reassuring Dutch voters that this year’s free-trade agreement between Ukraine and the EU was not a first step toward quickly joining the European Union.

Despite his prediction, the EU has been paving the way for visa-free travel to the bloc for Ukrainian citizens while providing Kyiv with a generous $40 billion bailout along with the United States and the International Monetary Fund to help it maintain economic stability amid a war with Russia-backed separatists.

NATO also sent a reassuring message to Ukraine last year by holding military exercises there in a show of force against Russia, which has repeatedly denounced the alliance’s eastern expansion as a threat to its national security.

But Juncker’s comments suggest that Ukraine’s ambition to join Europe, frequently expressed by leaders in Kyiv, will not be fulfilled anytime soon.

http://www.rferl.org/content/juncker-says-ukraine-not-likely-join-eu-nato-for-20-25-years/27588682.html

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