France: NATO may agree on Kyiv’s pathway to membership at Vilnius summit - BNS SPECIAL

  • 2023-06-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Valerie Rabault, First Vice-President of the French National Assembly, hopes that countries will agree on Ukraine’s pathway to membership in the Alliance at the upcoming NATO summit that will take place in Vilnius in July.

“If process ways, different steps are established and defined, I think we can get consensus at the summit because, of course, within NATO we have different ideas with different members sharing different opinions but (...) if we define the steps, I think we could get there [reach consensus] and I hope so. And I think we can get it,” she told BNS on the sidelines of a high-level meeting of speakers of NATO parliaments that was hosted by Vilnius at the end of last week.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on the West to offer Ukraine "tangible and credible" security guarantees as he visited Bratislava last week. He said various NATO members could provide these guarantees for the time being as Ukraine waited to join the Alliance.

Rabault stressed the necessity of having a clear roadmap of integration in NATO defined for Ukraine.

“Now we need to explain how and what will be the different steps, so I think, I hope this will be the case in one month,” she noted.

Last September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed an accelerated application to join NATO in the wake of an official annexation of four occupied Ukrainian regions by Russia. Kyiv hopes to hear clearer news on the prospects for its membership in the Alliance at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12.

In Bratislava, Macron also said that “if in a few months to come we have a window for negotiations, the question will be arbitrage between a trial [of the Russian president] and a negotiation, and you have to negotiate with the leaders you have de facto, and I think negotiations will be a priority”.

Meanwhile, Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada who spoke to BNS last Thursday, warned against having any illusions about potential negotiations with Vladimir Putin who, in his words, had broken all his promises.

The first vice-president of the French National Assembly said she did not think that there was a divergence of opinion.

“I don't think there are different opinions. It's very clear we have a very clear message on Ukraine, we are, of course, supporting Ukraine and there is no discussion about that,” Rabault noted.

“We have no talk. There is no talk with the Russian president, and for what concerns the French Parliament, we voted on two resolutions. One was against the Wagner group to have it recognized as a terrorist group… It was unanimity within the French national assembly on that… So there is a clear message we support Ukraine and we support Ukraine until they reach peace … based on international laws,” she noted.

China – one of the countries that have come up with a peace plan – has called to “settle” the conflict “politically”, but Western countries have said that this plan will likely result in Russia retaining most of the territories it has occupied in Ukraine and have largely rejected the initiative.

Rabault assumed that the NATO summit might address the issue of China but added it was difficult to say whether the countries might agree on a common policy towards this Eastern Asian state.

“To be honest, I don't know. I think the main topic you know there will be Ukraine at the next NATO summit, but maybe China, … military expenses… I think there will be discussions between leaders, a position may be defined but I can't answer your question at this stage,” she said.

“France is not naive at all. We know that China might have some … goals or some projects,” Rabault added.

The Strategic Concept for the Alliance approved by NATO heads of state and government at last year’s summit in Madrid warns that Beijing’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values”. China then dismissed this provision as completely pointless.