The executive body of the European Union has proposed initiating formal negotiations for Ukraine’s membership, once it fulfills the necessary requirements, thereby demonstrating significant backing for Kyiv in its conflict with Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his appreciation for this significant and momentous development, stating on social media, “This represents a robust and momentous stride towards a more formidable European Union, with Ukraine as an esteemed member.”
The European Union membership is imperative for our nation. The Ukrainian people deserve it not only for their unwavering commitment to European values but also for their steadfastness in upholding their promises even during times of intense warfare,” he expressed.
The European Commission, which has also initiated discussions with Moldova, has proposed that formal negotiations commence once Ukraine fulfills the outstanding requirements pertaining to combating corruption, enacting legislation on lobbying that aligns with EU norms, and fortifying protections for national minorities.
“This day marks a significant milestone,” stated Ursula von der Leyen, President of the commission.
Ukraine embarked on its endeavor to become a member of the EU subsequent to Moscow’s incursion in February 2022, and in June of that same year, it was formally designated as a prospective candidate for accession. Similarly, the former Soviet Republic of Moldova had submitted its application concurrently with Ukraine.
Moldova’s President, Maia Sandu, expressed gratitude towards Brussels and affirmed her nation’s unwavering commitment to achieving EU membership, vowing to persistently strive towards this objective. The final approval of the recommendations by the EU’s 27 leaders is yet to be obtained during the December summit, and the membership procedure is subject to the fulfillment of necessary reforms, accompanied by regular evaluations of progress, constituting a comprehensive and demanding undertaking.
Other EU hopefuls
Brussels also proposed that member states grant Georgia candidate status. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili expressed her joy for the people of Georgia through an online message.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Balkan country, has once again failed to receive approval due to not meeting the expected membership criteria, as stated by von der Leyen. Turkey, which initiated accession talks in 2005, has reached a deadlock in its negotiations. Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia are also facing challenges in their negotiations.
The conflict in Ukraine has revitalized the EU’s efforts to accept new members, as the bloc aims to counter Russian and Chinese influence. In June of last year, the commission established seven reform benchmarks for Kyiv to fulfill, including addressing corruption and reducing the power of oligarchs, before talks could commence.
Von der Leyen mentioned that Ukraine has now completed well over 90 percent of the necessary steps. The EU’s positive signal is a crucial boost for Ukraine during this challenging period. However, it remains uncertain whether EU countries will be prepared to approve talks with the war-torn country, which has a population of over 40 million, by December.
Sources from aljazeera