By SAMUEL PETREQUIN and MIKE CORDER, Related Press
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union agreed Thursday to place Ukraine on a path towards EU membership, appearing with uncharacteristic velocity and unity to tug the embattled nation additional away from Russia’s affect and bind it extra intently to the West.
Assembly at a summit in Brussels, leaders of the EU’s 27 nations mustered the required unanimous approval to grant Ukraine candidate standing. That units in movement a membership course of that might take years and even a long time.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted his gratitude and declared: “Ukraine’s future is inside the EU.”
“It’s a victory. We now have been ready for 120 days and 30 years,” he mentioned on Instagram, referring to the length of the battle and the a long time since Ukraine grew to become unbiased upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. “And now we’ll defeat the enemy.”
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European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen pronounced it a “good day for Europe.”
There was no instant response from the Kremlin.
The EU additionally gave candidate standing to the tiny nation of Moldova, one other former Soviet republic that borders Ukraine.
Ukraine utilized for membership lower than per week after Moscow invaded on Feb. 24. Thursday’s determination was unusually speedy for the EU and its go-slow method to growth. However the battle and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to the trigger.
To realize EU membership, international locations should meet an in depth host of financial and political circumstances, together with a dedication to the rule of regulation and different democratic rules. Ukraine should curb entrenched authorities corruption and undertake different reforms.
The European Parliament endorsed Ukraine’s bid hours earlier than the summit began, passing a decision that referred to as on EU governments to “transfer directly.”
“It would strengthen Ukraine, it can strengthen Europe. It’s a determination for freedom and democracy and places us on the appropriate facet of historical past,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola mentioned forward of the ultimate determination.
The EU nations have been united in backing Ukraine in its struggle in opposition to Russia’s invasion with cash and weapons, adopting unprecedented financial sanctions in opposition to the Kremlin.
EU candidate standing does not present any instant safety ensures. As soon as a rustic positive factors membership, nonetheless, it’s lined underneath an EU treaty clause that claims if a member falls sufferer to armed aggression, the opposite EU international locations are obligated to help it by all means of their energy.
The primary advantages of EU membership, although, are financial, because it provides entry to a market of 450 million shoppers with free motion of labor, items, providers and capital.
Ukraine has lengthy aspired to affix NATO, too, however the army alliance just isn’t about to supply an invite, partially due to the nation’s corruption, shortcomings in its protection institution, and its contested borders.
Earlier than the battle, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine by no means be allowed to affix NATO, which he has condemned for its eastward unfold towards Russia’s flank. However earlier this month, he didn’t appear bothered by Ukraine’s dedication to get nearer to the EU, saying it isn’t a army pact and thus “we now have no objections.”
In 2013, nonetheless, Putin objected to Ukraine’s plans to signal an affiliation settlement with the EU and pressured the Ukrainian president on the time to tug out on the final minute. This backfired by setting off mass protests that ultimately ousted the president and ushered in leaders extra keen than ever to carry Ukraine into the Western fold.
Within the years that adopted, Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and fomented a separatist rebellion within the nation’s Donbas area within the east.
The EU’s leaders additionally agreed Thursday to acknowledge a “European perspective” for one more former Soviet republic, Georgia. European Council President Charles Michel mentioned the EU will probably be able to approve its candidate standing as soon as “excellent priorities” are addressed.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose nation has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s European aspirations for years, mentioned on Twitter: “This can be a nice second for Europe’s unity and for the protection of its primary values. The wrestle for freedom goes on.”
The membership course of might be lengthy and tortuous.
Turkey utilized for membership in 1987, acquired candidate standing in 1999, and needed to wait till 2005 to begin talks for precise entry. The entire course of is at a standstill due to numerous disputes between the EU and Turkey.
Equally, a number of Balkan international locations have been in search of for a few years to affix the EU.
European officers have mentioned that Ukraine has already adopted about 70% of the EU guidelines and requirements, however in addition they have pointed to the necessity for different far-reaching measures.
Leaders additionally mentioned instant help to Ukraine, with the European Fee set to quickly carry ahead a proposal to grant new monetary assist of as much as 9 billion euros.
Meals safety was additionally on the desk as they agreed to proceed engaged on options to assist Ukraine export grain and different items by way of “ solidarity lanes to get round a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.
Comply with the AP’s protection of the battle at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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