RIGA - The positions of the 26 European Union (EU) member states and Hungary on Ukraine, including on financial support and accession to the bloc, are becoming increasingly radical, Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics stressed on Monday at a meeting with Slovenian President Natasa Pirc Musar at the Riga Castle.
The Latvian President said that last week had brought good news - the EU had managed to reach an agreement and decide to start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. Rinkevics noted that this will not be an easy or quick process. There will be a lot of discussion and Ukraine also has to do its homework in terms of legislation and reforms.
"Many issues will require decisions to be taken by the EU by consensus. In any case, the European Council's decision to open accession negotiations is a strong signal and an important step for Ukraine and Moldova, as well as for Bosnia & Herzegovina and Georgia," the Latvian President said.
He noted that the EU is a union of democracies and decisions are taken unanimously in some cases and by qualified majority in others. Hungary used its veto to block the decision to allocate EUR 50 billion to Ukraine.
"Knowing a little about the mechanics of how the EU works, I am optimistic enough to say that all the necessary decisions will be taken. Yes, it would have been better and more efficient if the decision on financial assistance to Ukraine had been taken last week. I am very optimistic that there will be no interruption in financing for Ukraine," Rinkevics said.
He also said that Latvia would continue to work with Hungary and present its arguments. Rinkevics noted that one of the most important questions for the future in Europe is how to stop Russian aggression, how to support Ukraine and how to help it in its fight against the aggressor state. The President stressed that Latvia is on the right side of history on this issue.
Pirc Musar pointed out that Slovenia supports EU enlargement - if these countries do not join the EU, other forces will enter. She expressed the hope that the EU had learnt something from the processes in the Western Balkans. The Slovenian President stressed that there are countries in the Western Balkans with political problems, but that the EU enlargement process must move forward as united as possible.
"There will always be a country that thinks a little differently from the other Member States, but in the end the EU is only as strong as its Member States. The more solid and united we are, the more solid and united the EU will be," said Pirc Musar.
In her view, Member States need to reform within the EU. While the time is not ripe to talk about a new EU treaty that would have to be ratified by all Member States, the current treaty offers opportunities to restructure the European Commission and the European Parliament so that new Member States can participate. Slovenia is one of seven countries in the group talking about changes to the EU to accommodate new Member States more reliably.