After months of delays, the EU and NATO are expected soon to formally issue a joint call for Russia to stop its war and leave Ukraine, pledging full support for Kyiv.
The statement, whose draft was partially reviewed by POLITICO, has been in the works for more than a year but was halted due to tensions between Turkey and Cyprus, diplomats said. Now, a final version appears to be close, and two diplomats said it is expected to be released soon, possibly Monday or Tuesday, or as early as 2023 if year-end schedules interfere.
While the text is largely nondescript, making it official would represent a considerable diplomatic achievement given the months it took to get there. Initially, the document was expected to obtain approval at the NATO summit in Madrid last June.
Even with the document almost ready for publication, some remain skeptical, saying they will only believe it when they see the public ceremony.
Frustration has been mounting over the document delays.
In September, after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen wrote on Twitter that “the time has come to agree a new Joint Statement to move our partnership forward.” And, at the beginning of the month, the European Parliament She complained that “despite effective cooperation on the ground”, the “delay is particularly notable with respect to the long-awaited third joint declaration”.
The text has been negotiated mainly between the office of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the Commission and NATO.
In the near-final draft, the EU and NATO call on Russia to “immediately stop this war and withdraw from Ukraine”, reiterating their “unwavering and continued support for its independence”.
They also agreed to “fully support Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defense and 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 world.”
The document includes another section dealing with China, which Germany pressured to keep separate from the Russian language, according to one of the diplomats.
“We live in an era of increasing strategic competition,” the document says in the paragraph on China. “China’s growing assertiveness and policies present challenges that we must address.”