EU leaders agree on candidate status for Ukraine, Moldova

French President Emmanuel Macron, (L) European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend a news conference during a European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday. Photo—AFP
  • Macron says the move has sent a “very strong signal” to the Kremlin.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the decision of the European Union.
  • EU leaders agree to provide Georgia with a “European perspective”.

BRUSSELS: European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova in a show of support for Russia’s combating of war.

“A historic moment. Today is an important step on your way towards the EU,” Michel wrote on Twitter during a summit in Brussels.

“Our future is together.”

Ukraine applied to be an EU candidate to cement its place in Europe, just days after Moscow launched a devastating offensive.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the move sent a “very strong signal” to the Kremlin that the EU supports Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations.

“We are indebted to the people of Ukraine who are fighting to defend our values, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity,” he said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the EU decision on Twitter as “a unique and historic moment in Ukraine-EU relations”, saying that “the future of Ukraine lies within the EU”.

The decision sets the two ex-Soviet nations at the start of a year-long path toward joining a bloc requiring major reforms and lengthy negotiations.

The EU has taken a number of steps for Kyiv, including strengthening rules and regulations and fighting corruption, before it can progress to the next stage of entry talks.

Moldova and Georgia, two countries that also have part of the territory occupied by Kremlin forces, submitted applications in the slipstream of Ukraine.

EU leaders agreed to give Georgia a “European perspective”, but said it would take several steps before becoming a candidate.

Georgia responded by saying it was determined to take the necessary steps to qualify.

“We look forward to working with determination over the next months to reach candidate status,” President Salome Zurabishvili said on Twitter.

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