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Ukraine begins EU membership talks amid war with Russia

The European Union began negotiations with Ukraine on Tuesday (25) to join the bloc, giving the country a political boost amid its war against Russia’s invasion, although there is still a long and difficult road ahead before that the country can join the bloc.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who spoke by video at a meeting in Luxembourg, said the start of negotiations was a historic moment and a significant step for both Kiev and the EU towards “our great shared victory”.

“For our nation, the European Union means much more than a physical space,” he said. “She represents values ​​and home.”

Tuesday’s meeting was more symbolic than actually about the details of the negotiations, which will begin in earnest only after the EU examines Ukrainian legislation to assess all the reforms needed to meet the bloc’s standards.

But by marking the start of talks with Ukraine and its neighbor Moldova, the EU signaled that both countries are on a path away from Russian influence and towards greater integration with the West.

“The future of Ukraine is up to the Ukrainians to decide,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, told the meeting.

“The EU will continue to support the right of the Ukrainian people to choose their own destiny.”

The moment was striking for many Ukrainians, who link their current conflict with Moscow to the Maidan Square uprising a decade ago, when protesters ousted a pro-Russian president who reneged on a promise to develop closer ties with the EU.

arduous journey

The journey to EU membership is arduous for candidate countries, as they need to make reforms to meet EU standards on a wide range of issues, from fighting corruption, to regulating agriculture, to harmonizing customs rules.

But the war adds a huge extra layer of challenges for both Kiev and Brussels, raising questions that neither side wants to answer at the moment — such as whether Ukraine could join if part of its territory was still occupied by Russian forces. .

The prospect of Moldova’s membership poses similar questions, albeit on a smaller scale, given that Russian soldiers are stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria.

Ukraine and Moldova will have to overcome not only technical and legal obstacles to membership, but also political obstacles.

Candidate countries need approval from all 27 EU members to open and close each stage of accession negotiations, giving EU governments several opportunities to delay the process.

Hungary — which has closer ties with Russia than other EU members and does not supply weapons to Kiev — has delayed the start of negotiations, citing concerns about the rights and treatment of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, according to diplomats. .

Enlarging the EU to include Ukraine and Moldova — and other candidates such as the Western Balkan countries and Georgia — would require a radical overhaul of EU rules on everything from agricultural and economic development subsidies to decision-making, according to analysts.

Source: CNN Brasil

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