Ukraine disappointed after Austria's foreign minister says country should not be admitted to EU

Ukraine disappointed after Austria's foreign minister says country should not be admitted to EU

Ukraine has been disappointed after Austria's Foreign Minister said the country should not be offered membership to the European Union.

The Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said alternative paths should be considered instead of Ukraine receiving candidate status in June at the 14th European Media Summit in Lech.

Here's how it happened.

In his speech, Alexander Schallenberg called for a different way for Ukraine to connect with Europe.

The Austrian publication Heute reported that Schallenberg called for models other than full membership and more flexibility.

Schallenberg justified his position by saying there are countries in the Western Balkans that the EU calls enlargement countries, who have come a long way without full membership.

He said Austria was neutral, but not politically, due to the war in Ukraine. Oleg Nikolenko, Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, said the comments ignore the fact that the vast majority of the population of the EU founding member states support Ukraine s membership. According to Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform, his country has every reason to demand that its merits and the strategic role for the EU are recognised objectively.

What is Austria's history with the war?

On April 12, Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer met Russian President Vladimir Putin to exhaust every possibility of ending the violence in Ukraine.

He said he had no optimistic impression from his conversation with Putin.

In a statement released by his office after the meeting, Mr Nehammer said his primary message to Mr Putin was that this war needs to end because both sides can only lose a few days earlier. In a statement released by his office, Mr Nehammer travelled to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The European Council is expected to meet on June 23 -- 24 to issue its opinion on Ukraine's membership and declare the country a candidate for membership.

Once this is done, all EU governments must agree to start the negotiations.

The process to join the EU is long, with Croatia taking 10 years to join.

Here's how Austria could affect the membership process:

Austria would need to agree to start negotiating whether Ukraine could join the EU;

If Austria does agree, it will be part of the negotiation process, where members will work through whether Ukraine meets certain criteria in line with the EU's values.

The length and process of the negotiations could be impacted by the country's stance.