EU leaders grant Ukraine, Moldova candidate status


European leaders on Thursday granted candidate status to Ukraine, a historic move that paves the way for the war-ravaged country’s EU membership.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels also approved Moldova’s candidate status and announced that Georgia is next in line once it meets certain conditions.

European Council President Charles Michel hailed the “historic moment” in a tweet congratulating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Moldova’s President Maia Sandu.

“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU … Our future is together,” he said.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, said it was “a good day for Europe.”

“Your countries are part of our European family. And today’s historic decision by leaders confirms that,” she said on Twitter.

“This decision strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in the face of Russian imperialism. And it strengthens the EU. Because it shows once again to the world that we are united and strong in the face of external threats.”

Von der Leyen said Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia “all have work to do before moving to the next stage of the process.”

“I know that they will move swiftly. They know how crucial this is for their democracies, their economies and their citizens,” she added.

Zelenskyy officially signed his country’s request to join the EU on Feb. 28, just four days after Russia launched its war on Ukraine, with Georgia and Moldova following suit on March 3.

The Ukrainian president said Thursday’s decision marked a “unique and historical moment” in Kyiv’s relations with the EU.

In a Twitter post, he thanked EU leaders and said he was grateful for their support.

“Ukraine’s future is within the EU,” he said.

Zelenskyy also posted a video message on Instagram, terming the candidacy nod a “victory” for Ukraine.

Ukraine has been waiting for this day “for 120 days and 30 years,” he said, referring to the duration of the ongoing war and the three decades since his country’s independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“And now we will defeat the enemy,” he asserted.

In a Twitter post, Sandu also lauded a “historic day for Moldova.”

She said the EU candidate status is “an unequivocal and strong signal of support for our citizens and Moldova’s European future.”

“We are grateful & committed to advancing on the path of reforms,” she added.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili also took to Twitter to celebrate “this day of hope.”

“Georgia’s European perspective is recognized. Now, we’re ready to work with determination over the next months to reach the candidate status,” she said.

Zourabichvili also congratulated Zelenskyy, Sandu and the people of Ukraine and Moldova.

“Being granted candidacy is a historic step that shows the unity and will of the EU and all its member states. We the three associated members are together on our European path,” she added.



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