EU leaders have granted “candidate” standing to Ukraine and Moldova at a summit marked additionally by Western Balkan frustration.
In the meantime, Georgia obtained promise of future candidacy, if it carries out reforms.
The choice “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,” EU Fee president Ursula von der Leyen mentioned.
“The Ukrainian people belong to the European family. Ukraine’s future is with the EU,” EU international relations chief Josep Borrell mentioned.
The choice despatched “a strong signal towards Russia in the current geopolitical context”, French president Emmanuel Macron added.
“Just a few months ago I was really sceptical that we would reach this position,” Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas mentioned, referring to prior objections by enlargement sceptics, similar to Denmark and the Netherlands, who modified their minds on the final minute.
“This is the least we can provide for them [the Ukrainians],” Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda mentioned.
The Ukrainian, Georgian, and Moldovan leaders additionally celebrated.
“We have been waiting for 120 days [the duration of the war] and 30 years [since Ukraine regained independence]” Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky mentioned from Kyiv. “Now we can defeat the enemy, rebuild Ukraine, join the EU, and then we can rest,” he added.
“We have a difficult road ahead, which will require a lot of work and effort”, Maria Sandu, the president of Moldova mentioned.
However for all that, the summit left a bitter style for some Western Balkan leaders, after Bulgaria continued to uphold its veto on opening accession talks with North Macedonia in a nasty bilateral dispute on language and tradition.
“It’s a disgrace that a Nato country, Bulgaria, kidnaps two other Nato countries, namely Albania and North Macedonia, in the midst of a hot war in Europe’s backyard with 26 other EU countries sitting still in a scary show of impotence,” Albanian prime minister Edi Rama mentioned.
Albania’s bid is linked to North Macedonia’s within the EU course of.
“North Macedonia is a candidate for 17 years if I have not lost count, Albania since eight, so welcome to Ukraine,” Rama added, noting simply how lengthy the EU enlargement course of can take.
“It’s a good thing to give Ukraine the status. But I hope that Ukrainian people will not make many illusions,” he mentioned.
“What has happened is a serious blow to the credibility [of] the European Union,” North Macedonia’s prime minister Dimitar Kovačevski mentioned.
And even amid the unanimous assist for Ukraine’s candidacy, with war nonetheless raging, not less than one Russia-friendly EU state additionally urged they’d block any extra European sanctions on Moscow in future.
“At the end of the day Europe will be on the losing side of this war because of the economic problems. Our recommendation would bee that we should stop the sanction process,” Balazs Orbán, a senior aide to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán advised Reuters within the margins of Thursday’s assembly.
“Negotiations, ceasefire, peace. Diplomacy. That’s our solution,” he mentioned.