Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the European Union’s (EU) decision to grant his country candidate status to join the 27-member bloc, saying it was a “historic moment ” in bilateral relations.
At a two-day summit in Brussels, the European Council on Thursday accepted Ukraine and Moldova as candidates to join the bloc.
Just four days after Russia launched its invasion of kyiv on February 24, Zelensky had signed an official appeal to the EU asking for Ukraine’s membership through a new special procedure.
Speaking to social media on Thursday evening, Zelensky wrote: “One of the most important decisions for Ukraine during the 30 years of independence of our state. However, this decision is not only for the Ukraine: This is the greatest step towards the strengthening of Europe that could be taken at this time, right in our times, and exactly under the conditions in which the Russian war is testing our ability to preserve freedom and unity.
“Thank you to the summit of all European leaders. Thank you to our heroes, to all those who, arms in hand, defend the independence of Ukraine and the freedom of Europe… Thank you for making possible a new history of Europe, even stronger, even freer.”
In a tweet, Zelensky thanked European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, adding that it was “a unique and historic moment” in Ukraine-EU relations.
“The future of Ukraine is within the EU.”
Thursday’s development comes after the European Commission issued its decision on June 17, in which it recommended recognizing Ukraine’s European perspective and granting candidate status.
Candidate status is the first official step towards EU membership. However, observers say that even with candidate status, it may take years or even decades for Ukraine to gain EU membership, the BBC reported.
For example, the Western Balkan countries of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have been candidate countries for years; in some cases for more than a decade.
Bosnia and Herzegovina applied in 2016 but still failed.
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