Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, played down the prospects of Ukraine joining the EU quickly, saying there was “no shortcut on the path into the EU”.
In a statement to the German parliament on Thursday, he said French president Emmanuel Macron was right to say that the process of joining the EU was “not a matter of a few months or a few years”. He said for that reason, the bloc should focus on offering economic aid to Ukraine.
He said Germany supported the idea of a “solidarity fund” financed by EU contributions and by the bloc’s international partners to rebuild Ukraine’s shattered infrastructure after the war with Russia is over and “revive the Ukrainian economy”.
The chancellor said it was “only fair to the six countries of the western Balkans” that there should be no “short-cut on the path into the EU”.
The six western Balkan countries with aspirations to join the EU — Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo — had, he said, been “engaged in intensive reforms to prepare for accession for years”.
“It’s not just a question of our credibility that we keep our promises to them — today more than ever their integration [into the EU] lies in our own strategic interest,” he said, citing efforts by Russia to increase its influence in the region.
“It’s about our own security, which we can’t achieve without a stable, European west Balkans,” he said.