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Ukraine Criticizes Austrian Minister Over Comments About EU Membership.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg attends a news briefing following talks with his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine in Kyiv on February 8.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg attends a news briefing following talks with his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine in Kyiv on February 8.

Ukraine has criticized Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg for opposing its membership in the European Union, saying such a move will weaken the bloc.

"We consider [his remarks] strategically short-sighted and not in the interests of a united Europe," Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said in a statement to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on April 24.

Schallenberg, a member of the conservative Austrian People's Party, told a conference a day earlier that the EU should not make Ukraine a candidate member at its June meeting and instead offer Kyiv "another path" forward in its relationship with the 27-member bloc.

The EU's executive arm in June may provide its opinion on Ukraine's bid to become a candidate to join the bloc, paving the way for a possible decision by leaders that same month.

A majority of countries in the bloc back Ukraine's desire.

However, such a move could be controversial, since Russia has frequently cited Kyiv's decision to forge closer ties with the EU and NATO as one rationale for its invasion of Ukraine.

Membership in the EU includes an obligation to assist fellow member states that are victims of armed aggression.

Ukraine has been slowly carrying out political and economic reforms since 2014, when it overthrew pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, in order to meet EU membership requirements.

The majority of Ukrainians support joining the EU.

With reporting by Bloomberg and Reuters

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