Ukraine ‘now has a clear European perspective’, says Ursula von der Leyen

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Ukraine now has a “very clear European perspective” following the European Union’s decision to grant the country candidate status to join the bloc, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament.

“Ukraine now has a very clear European perspective. And Ukraine is a candidate country to join the European Union, something that seemed almost unimaginable just five months ago,” von der Leyen said in a videoconference address to the assembly on Friday.

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“So today is the first and most important. A moment to celebrate this historic milestone, a victory of determination and a victory for the entire movement that started eight years ago at Maidan,” he added.

EU grants Ukraine candidate status at ‘historic moment’

European leaders formally accepted Ukraine as a candidate to join the European Union (EU) on Thursday (23), a bold geopolitical move. hailed by Ukraine and the EU itself as a “historic moment”.

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While it could take more than a decade for Ukraine and neighboring Moldova to qualify for membership, the decision at a two-day EU summit is a symbolic step that signals the bloc’s intention to delve deeper into the former Soviet Union.

“A historic moment,” tweeted European Council head Charles Michel. “Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” he said, adding: “Our future is together.”

The move, which also grants Moldova candidate status, kick-starts the EU’s most ambitious expansion since it welcomed Eastern European states after the Cold War.

“All the people in Ukraine are watching and waiting for this decision,” said Ivan Zichenko, a 34-year-old Ukrainian from the devastated city of Kharkiv who now lives in Brussels.

“It’s very, very important to boost their morale,” he said as a few dozen people chanted “Ukraine is Europe” at a rally outside the Brussels building where EU leaders were meeting.

Behind the triumphant rhetoric, however, is concern within the EU about how the bloc can remain coherent as it continues to expand.

After starting in 1951 as a six-country organization to regulate industrial production, the EU now has 27 members facing complex challenges from climate change and China’s rise to a war on its own doorstep.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his “special military operation” launched in Ukraine in late February was partly necessary for the Western encroachment on what Russia characterizes as its legitimate geographic sphere of influence.

The EU’s green light “is a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and also other countries of the former Soviet Union, cannot belong to Russian spheres of influence,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Chentsov Vsevolod, told Reuters.

“There are Ukrainian soldiers calling home from the front line and asking: what is going on with our candidate status? It’s amazing how important this is for the Ukrainian people.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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