Saturday 7 October 2023

Ukraine ‘Corrupt At All Levels Of Society,’ Not Ready To Join E.U., Former European Commission President Says

 Jean-Claude Juncker, the former president of the European Commission, slammed the idea of Ukraine joining the European Union, saying the country must root out the corruption that touches “all levels” of its society.  

Juncker, who presided over the European Commission, a governing body within the E.U., from 2014 to 2019, told German outlet Augsburger Allgemeine that he was upset with some “voices in Europe” conveying to Ukraine that they could join the E.U. immediately. Juncker, who was also the prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013, added that Ukraine is not ready to be admitted into the E.U., POLITICO reported

“Anyone who has had anything to do with Ukraine knows that this is a country that is corrupt at all levels of society. Despite its efforts, it is not ready for accession; it needs massive internal reform processes,” the former European Commission president said. 

“You shouldn’t make false promises to the people in Ukraine who are up to their necks in suffering,” Juncker added. “I am very angry about some voices in Europe who are telling Ukrainians that they can become members immediately.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed for admittance into alliances such as NATO and the E.U. as Ukrainians continue to fight off the Russian invasion. The E.U. is reportedly set to begin talks in December about admitting Ukraine into the 27-country union after granting the country candidate status in June.

To be accepted into the E.U., Ukraine must meet seven conditions, including curbing the rampant corruption in the country, according to POLITICO. Rooting out corruption has posed challenges for Ukraine, however, even as foreign aid continues to flow into the country, including billions from American taxpayers. The Biden administration, with the support of a bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers, is seeking to approve another aid package to the European country, but opposition to Ukraine funding is growing in Congress as polling shows Americans are growing wary of sending blank checks to the corrupt Ukrainian government. 

Numerous top officials in Ukraine’s government stepped down earlier this year amidst allegations of corruption. Some of the departures and resignations included the deputy head of Ukraine’s Presidential Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko. 

Then in August, Zelensky fired every single head of the country’s regional military enlistment offices over allegations of abuse of power, fraud, and corruption. Recent inspections revealed that military officials illegally obtained cash or cryptocurrency while others illegally transported people eligible for military service across the border. The inspection began in June after journalists uncovered that the former head of the Odesa Oblast military enlistment office purchased property in Spain worth $4.5 million, according to the Kyiv Independent.


The ongoing corruption in Ukraine reminds Juncker of bad decisions made by the E.U. in the past that he doesn’t want the union to repeat.

“We have had bad experiences with some so-called new members, for example when it comes to the rule of law,” he said. “This cannot be repeated again.

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