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Ireland urged to convince EU ‘sceptics’ of importance of Ukraine membership

Ireland must convince ‘sceptical’ countries of the importance of Ukrainian EU membership, the Oireachtas EU Affairs Committee has heard (Brian Lawless/PA)
Ireland must convince ‘sceptical’ countries of the importance of Ukrainian EU membership, the Oireachtas EU Affairs Committee has heard (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland must convince “sceptical” countries of the importance of Ukrainian EU membership, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Leading Ukrainian politician Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze praised consistent Irish support for her country’s bid to join the European Union.

It comes as Ukraine seeks to achieve EU candidate status in the coming weeks, one of the early stages in the process towards full membership.

However, several EU leaders have sought to play down Ukrainian expectations amid division across the bloc over the pace of the country’s accession.

Irish politicians, including Taoiseach Micheal Martin, have been steadfast supporters of Ukrainian efforts to obtain full EU membership.

Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze told the Oireachatas EU Affairs Committee her country is “grateful” for the backing of Ireland.

The politician, who is chairwoman of the Committee on EU Affairs in the Ukrainian Parliament, said: “Russia is totally opposing our right, not only to build a European future, but to live in this moment.”

Speaking virtually from Davos in Switzerland, Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze said Ireland has shown a “clear and dedicated stance” on Ukraine’s ambition to join the EU.

She said she wanted “to ask you to do your utmost to talk to sceptical colleagues in other countries”.

“Unfortunately, not everyone is on board at this particular moment.”

“We should not be hiding behind legalities, but take this political decision already now.”

Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze mentioned several countries that she said are failing to back Ukraine’s entry into the EU, including France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Oireachtas committee members on Wednesday praised Ukrainian efforts and pledged Irish support, while also probing the Ukrainian representatives on sanctions, energy and food security.

Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze also hit out at states and commentators that she said are trying to “push Ukraine into concessions and try to find compromises at the expense of Ukraine, as opposed to continuing to help us further”.

It was reported this week that Henry Kissinger, a key figure in US foreign policy over several decades, said Ukraine should concede territory to Russia to end the war.

Sinn Fein foreign affairs spokesman John Brady joined the criticism of Mr Kissinger’s comments, which he called “absolutely disgraceful”.

Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze said: “Russia is trying to erase us from the map of the world, as a nation and as a state.”

She said it is “heart-breaking” that the latest package of EU sanctions has not yet been agreed and condemned “loopholes” in the current measures adopted against Russia.

“This war has to be ended with Russian defeat, with Russian isolation. Definitely with Russian punishment,” she told Irish parliamentarians.

“There are many Buchas (scene of Russian atrocities) around Ukraine that have been done by these so-called armed forces.”

She called for what she described as a “Nuremberg 2.0” to investigate alleged Russian war crimes.

“We are counting on Irish engagement and support in this endeavour as well.”

Later, she told the committee: “We have to understand that concessions are only indulging additional appetite for (Vladimir) Putin.”

Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze also asked for Irish help in de-mining agricultural land in Ukraine.

While thanking Ireland for its contribution to non-lethal aid for Ukraine, she said: “Your expertise, your training, your equipment in that regard would be extremely important.”

Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze, questioned by committee members, declined to urge Ireland to reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

She indicated that it was the decision of Irish foreign affairs officials based on security assessments.

“I think Ukrainian people are watching with much attention and a lot of hope and welcome when embassies are being reopened in Ukraine.”

Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko, who also appeared before the committee, spoke about some of the challenges faced by refugees since arriving in the country.

While Ireland’s response was welcomed by both Ukrainian representatives, Ms Gerasko said: “The only one challenge is accommodation, of course you know about that.

“Unfortunately our displaced people have to move from other places.”

She said it is a “little bit difficult for children”, who often have to move between schools.