Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström and Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen (NCP) held a joint press conference in Helsinki on Wednesday, 8 November. Billström and Valtonen said Finland and Sweden are prepared to support the EU membership of Ukraine, but highlighted the need for further progress on anti-corruption in the member state candidate. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


THE FOREIGN MINISTERS of Finland and Sweden, Elina Valtonen (NCP) and Tobias Billström, on Wednesday said the two Nordic countries are committed to supporting the EU membership of Ukraine.

Both Billström and Valtonen underscored, though, that the membership process must be carried out with due diligence, with particular attention on the anti-corruption effort in Ukraine.

“That Ukraine has already managed to make so much progress on the issue is something we have to take into consideration,” Billström was quoted saying at a press conference in Helsinki by Helsingin Sanomat.

The European Commission on Wednesday estimated in its enlargement report that official membership negotiations can be initiated with Ukraine, despite the country not yet meeting all the criteria set for the negotiations. A final decision on whether to proceed to the negotiations will be taken by the European Council in December.

Even if the council also shows a green light for the negotiations, it will signal the start of a long process for Ukraine.

Billström and Valtonen on Wednesday held a joint press conference with the defence ministers of Finland and Sweden, Antti Häkkänen (NCP) and Pål Jonson. The ministerial quartet met in the city to discuss a number of topical foreign, security and defence policy issues, including bilateral issues, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT