The European Union wants to expand eastward to seize territories at the expense of Russia and is ready to turn a blind eye to the fact that candidate countries do not meet the accession criteria, according to a publication affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church.
NEWS: “Essentially, the EU has presented a new argument for a potential enlargement – to prevent those countries from falling under Russian influence or control. One of the most influential European publications, Politico, has expressed this idea clearly. "Putin wants more land. The EU is racing to get there first.” headlined a commentary that was published just before von der Leyen's speech.
It is obvious that when it comes to enlargement, the mere geopolitical interest takes precedence over the EU’s vaunted “principles and values”.
NARRATIVE: The EU wants to expand its territories at the expense of Russia and is ready to give up its standards in order to achieve this goal.
LOCAL CONTEXT/ETHOS: The war in Ukraine seems to have brought back to the forefront of discussions in Brussels the idea of a new enlargement, mentioned over the past month in the speeches of several European officials. All of them say, however, that any new members can only be accepted as they meet the accession conditions.
The resurgence of talk of enlargement, after a long period in which the subject had been on the back burner in Brussels, seems to have disturbed Russian and pro-Russian propaganda, which started launching false narratives (some of them contradicting each other), in an attempt to minimize, distort or divert the messages sent from Brussels.
Two decades ago, the Republic of Moldova expressed its intention to get closer to the European Union, but the process was a tortuous one, with slow progress and periods of advancement followed by periods of stagnation. In June 2022, however, the country received, together with Ukraine, the status of a candidate state for accession.
PURPOSE: To change the image of European integration from an extensive process of reforms to an anti-Russian action, thus fueling the anti-Western movements of some population groups, especially Russian-speaking minorities.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Indeed, several European leaders have recently made statements in favor of EU enlargement, but each time the need to carry out reforms in the states that aspire to this status and meet the conditions for membership is mentioned. Even in the Politico article, quoted by traditia.md, it is specified that the enlargement process will be based on the merits of the candidate countries: “No sooner had Michel set his 2030 target date than a spokesperson for the European Commission, which is responsible for assessing candidate nations’ fitness, poured cold water on such a rapid timescale. The process to join the EU was purely “merit-based,” the spokesperson said. The Commission is due to present progress reports on candidate countries later this year, although one senior EU diplomat said the presentation was likely to be delayed amid intense scrutiny of Ukraine’s accession bid, in particular.”
In her speech in the European Parliament (to which traditia.md also refers), the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke in favor of the accession of new member states, pointed out the need to continue the reforms. “I want us to look forward to the next European Day of Welcomes and the next economic success stories. We know this is not an easy road. Accession is merit-based – and the Commission will always defend this principle. It takes hard work and leadership” (emphasis by the European Commission).
In addition, it is worth noting that the European Union does not demand that a state become a member, as the USSR did. Its heir, Russia, seeks to maintain its hegemony including through military invasion (Ukraine) or fueling secessionist regimes (Georgia, Republic of Moldova), and the only criterion it pursues is loyalty to Moscow. On the contrary, Brussels imposes strict rules and norms for the aspiring countries, so that some of them have not completed the negotiation process started many years ago and Georgia, for example, which submitted the application for membership together with the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, was refused the status of a candidate country, being asked to implement more reforms.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The possibility of enlargement by accepting the countries in the Western Balkans, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine started being discussed more intensely within the EU.