The European Heads of State and Government will give Ukraine and Moldova official status as candidates for membership. Why and what does this mean?
By knocking on the door of the European Union, these two states want to break with their Soviet past and the Russian domination by force that Putin would like to prolong. They claim to be part of Europe, its civilisation and its democratic values.
It is true that the example of European reunification, which took place in 2004 and 2007 for 10 Central and Eastern European countries, speaks for itself: these societies are now firmly rooted in democracy and on the right track; they have experienced a prosperity that was impossible under Russian rule; their states and identities are respected within a rich and peaceful whole, which encourages their populations to stay or to return when, in despair, they emigrated en masse.
Moldova, which was left out, has paid dearly for having to remain in the Russian fold. It is said to be the poorest country in Europe. It is threatened with destabilization and pressured by mafia clans. Now led by a modern and courageous president, it is witnessing the dawn of new European perspectives after a tragic history. Moldovans will be the first to benefit.
For Ukraine, it is Putin's aggression that is upsetting the Europeans and their rules and forcing them to respond.
Who could have imagined that in the 21st century a revisionist power would set itself the goal of reconquering the territories it temporarily occupied in the 17th and 18th centuries? Such a confused reading of history dishonours a whole country which finds itself in the grip of propaganda from another age.
If they had a choice, the Russian people would of course choose to live in the European way, because the comparison would not be to the advantage of one of the most unequal kleptocracies in the world, a police state that oppresses and imprisons. The real reason for Russia's aggression is the fear that the people and its own citizens will choose Europe, its peace, its values and its prosperity.
Offering candidate status is therefore a strong political signal, especially for war-torn Ukraine, whose history and geography have long deprived it of an identity that it is now having to conquer by force. It is a new Europe, with greater geopolitical power and strength of attraction, more political and more determined, which is thus taking a major turning point for a long time to come by refusing to give in, this time, to pressure from Moscow.
From now on, Ukraine and Moldova belong to the European family. They will be helped in the necessary and hard reforms required by a European rule of law of the highest level and a highly competitive economic area. This is in their interest and in ours.
Financially assisted, they will be gradually encouraged to integrate the common policies pursued by the Europeans. The road will be long but certain and their citizens will very quickly benefit economically and in terms of their standard of living.
The European counter-model is thus in direct opposition to Putin's Russia. This is why those who have suffered in the past are so motivated to confront it more openly. Europeans must realise that they are already at war with it, not with the Russian people, but with its current leaders who are cultivating lies and spreading violence on the continent again. If they were to win, the whole of Europe would suffer.