VILNIUS – As the European Union fails to reach a consensus on Ukraine's membership, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says Lithuania will be a "peace disturber" on the matter.
His comment on Monday followed his meeting with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
"Ukraine needs a very clear message about its candidate status. This in no way means that Ukraine will become an EU member tomorrow. It will only mean the start of a long road, but it will be a clear one, and most importantly, it will give hope to the people of Ukraine, who are fighting and sacrificing their lives right now, that the future of this country is in the EU family", Nauseda told a press conference after the meeting.
Russia's sparked war in Ukraine has led to significant changes in the mindset of EU leaders as they agreed to send arms to Kyiv and impose the toughest-to-date sanctions on the Kremlin.
"Politics is not a body of stagnant water, it is a river. (...) This gives me hope that we will also move on this issue (Ukraine's EU membership - BNS). At least Lithuania promises to be the disturber of the peace that will prevent this discussion from ending," the Lithuanian president said.
Having met in France earlier this month, EU leaders told Ukraine that there was no quick way for the country to join the bloc, but said in a joint statement that Brussels and Kyiv would continue to strengthen their partnership to support Ukraine "on its European path".
This was once again reiterated by the Dutch prime minister in Vilnius on Monday.
"There is a difference in the emphasis on the need for speed of giving Ukraine the EU candidate status. That's true, let's not try to put it in the corner," Rutte said. "Becoming a member is a long and tedious bureaucratic process, that's the case. There is no fast-track procedure.
In his words, the European Commission is looking into Ukraine's membership application and "we will follow up on that. (...) The next step should be in the process.
Rutte stressed that relations with Kyiv are already being strengthened as "we have an Association Agreement, we have a free trade agreement".
Meanwhile, Nauseda stressed that the EU cannot "become hostage to bureaucratic procedures" and must act faster.