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Monday, Feb 06, 2023

EU and NATO near long-delayed joint pledge to back Ukraine

EU and NATO near long-delayed joint pledge to back Ukraine

The text, far from groundbreaking, has nonetheless faced months of diplomatic delays.
After months of delays, the EU and NATO are expected to soon formally issue a joint call for Russia to stop its war and leave Ukraine, and to pledge full support to Kyiv.

The declaration, a draft of which was partially reviewed by POLITICO, has been in the works for more than a year but held up over tensions between Turkey and Cyprus, diplomats said. Now, a final version appears near, and two diplomats said it is expected to be presented soon, possibly on Monday or Tuesday — or early in 2023 if end-of-year schedules get in the way.

While the text is largely unremarkable, making it official would represent a considerable diplomatic achievement given the months it took to get there. Initially, the document was expected to get a sign-off at the NATO summit in Madrid last June.

Even with the document being near ready for release, some remain skeptical, saying they’ll only believe it when they see the public ceremony.

Frustration has been mounting over the document’s delays.

In September, after meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen wrote on Twitter that “the time has come to agree a new Joint Declaration to take our partnership forward.” And, at the start of the month, the European Parliament complained that “despite effective cooperation on the ground,” the “foot-dragging is particularly noticeable regarding the long-awaited third joint declaration.” 

The text has been negotiated mainly between the office of the European Council president, Charles Michel, the Commission and NATO.

In the near-final draft, the EU and NATO call for Russia “to immediately stop this war and withdraw from Ukraine,” and they reiterate their “unwavering and continued support for its independence.”

They also agreed “to fully support Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence and to choose its own destiny.” And they say that “Russia’s brutal war” has “exacerbated a food and energy crisis affecting billions of people around the word.”

The document includes another section addressing China, which Germany pushed to keep separate from the Russian language, according to one of the diplomats.

“We live in an era of growing strategic competition,” the document says in the paragraph on China. “China’s growing assertiveness and policies present challenges that we need to address.”
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