On her second trip to Madrid this year, MP Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (Kiev, 1972), head of the Committee on Ukrainian Integration in the EU, praised the efforts of the Spanish EU Council Presidency to keep Ukraine as a priority of the European Union agenda.
Do you think the European Council will decide in December to officially open accession negotiations with Ukraine?
We hope that European leaders will give the EU the opportunity to become a real geopolitical player and open its doors not only to Ukraine, but also to Moldova, Georgia and the countries of the Western Balkans. The decision can be based not only on economic calculations, but on values. Since gaining EU candidate status last year, we have shown that we are able to fight for our survival while focusing on transforming the country with the necessary reforms to meet the conditions. We must understand it in terms of anchoring it in an area of peace, security, prosperity, democracy and freedom for the future.
How can the reforms demanded by Brussels be implemented in the middle of war?
It’s incredibly difficult. We would like to focus on our Euro-Atlantic integration, but we are fighting for our survival. We must protect our civilian population and drive the occupiers out of our country. We are deeply aware of the historic opportunity that lies before us and the need to meet the expectations of Ukrainians.
Do you think joining the EU is closer than joining NATO?
I am a Euro-Atlantic. We have believed and worked on this for decades, and the country is moving in this direction in different ways. I hope that integration into NATO will happen more quickly, although I understand the difficulties of the European integration process with its different actors, policies and technical details. We need to make important changes to ensure that the reforms are irreversible. We don’t want our country to be a burden to the EU, we want it to be admired. I would like to encourage NATO and EU leaders to take steps to invite us to join, leading to a system of stability in Europe.
Could EU integration be on the table in peace negotiations?
Ukrainians have consciously chosen dignity since 2014 and even before that, in the Orange Revolution. We want to be the owners of our future and not let anyone tell us what to do. Therefore, I don’t see any negotiations with Russia. In 2014 we were a neutral country and that did not stop Russia from attacking us. The integrity of our country is not negotiated with our attackers.
What measures are you taking to combat corruption?
We have been building the anti-corruption infrastructure for five or six years. To this end, we have passed laws and created institutions to teach the population how to prevent this. I am confident that we can see the results of the agencies set up to fight corruption. But it is not a demand of the EU, but of the Ukrainian people. In these bloody times, the tolerance level for corruption is below zero.
Are Western countries leaving Ukraine out because of the war between Israel and Hamas?
Russia is pleased that Ukraine is no longer the main news in most Western countries. It is in the interest of all European nations to ensure that Russia is defeated, otherwise the security consequences would be disastrous as Russia would attack even more. Putin made it clear that he wants to redraw the 1997 borders.
Do you see a fatigue in the military support of Ukraine by the EU countries?
We have come to a point where it is important to move away from this type of partial drip delivery of weapons to Ukraine and increase production and delivery. We see that Russia continues its disinformation attacks in various countries and its cyberattacks, and now we see what is happening at the border with Finland, where immigration is being used as a weapon. Russia has been driving and supporting right-wing and left-wing extremist movements for decades. Populists are not only against Ukraine, but against the European values of freedom and prosperity. Orban, for example, met Putin in China, who is a war criminal. At this point, no one can stay away.
How Ukraine faces the new winter. Do you fear a resurgence of Russian attacks?
We are in a weaker position than we were a year ago because it was impossible to repair everything that Russia destroyed. The Russian army has resumed attacks on our energy infrastructure and attacks on civilians with drones and missiles. Unfortunately, our capabilities do not allow us to protect all of our cities, power plants and bridges. I fear a really difficult winter for us.