Monday, December 12, 2022

Austrian Top Diplomat Says EU Should Avoid Creating Second, First Class Candidate Status

EU should also consider including central Asian states

The European Union should avoid creating "second and first class" membership-candidate status, Foreign Minister of Austria Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday.

"If we look to the East we should not forget to look to the South East as well. So I am very much in favor in giving Bosnia and Herzegovina the candidate status too. We have to be very watchful not to create a second and first class candidate countries situation," the minister said when arriving for the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

According to Schallenberg, the EU should also consider including central Asian states in the bloc's political orbit within a different format of cooperation.

"We have to be aware that we shouldn't only look at Ukraine and Moldova. We have to keep an eye on southern Caucasus, we might have to include and we might think about including in another format central Asian states.

We have to give these countries the feeling that they are not let alone next to a huge neighbor called Russia," Schallenberg added.

In October, the European Commission recommended that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted candidate status if it meets a number of conditions. In particular, the EU expects the country to take measures to fight corruption and organized crime, coordinate all levels of border management, ensure the functioning of the asylum system, and guarantee freedom of the media.

The heads of state and government of EU countries approved granting Moldova and Ukraine the status of candidates to join the union on June 23. The European Council will take further steps after the candidate countries fulfill the conditions formulated by the European Commission.

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