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16th Aug 2022

EU candidate status would be 'watershed', Ukraine official says

  • Ruslan Stefanchuk, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament), is expected to visit several countries to discuss Ukraine's membership bid with EU leaders (Photo: European Parliament)
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The Speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, called on Wednesday (8 June) on EU countries to support his country's bid this month to join the 27-member bloc.

It is very important for Ukraine to hear this "powerful message" from Europe, he said in an address to the European Parliament, hoping for a positive reaction from EU leaders later this month at the next EU summit.

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"Let's do everything possible that on the 24th of June we'll see a watershed day, an important day for us, and our joint great victory," Stefanchuk said.

He warned that otherwise Russian president Vladimir Putin would hear the signal that he can move on with impunity.

The chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, will visit several countries to discuss Ukraine's membership bid with the EU leaders ahead of the next summit.

EU leaders are expected to discuss Ukraine's bid when they meet in Brussels on 23 and 24 June.

Nevertheless, granting Ukraine a candidate status does not mean it will join the EU automatically. This process could take years, or decades, as French president Emmanuel Macron said last month.

"We are clearly aware and guarantee that having received this impulse and political message, we are ready to continue working and are ready to do it quickly and efficiently," Stefanchuk said.

The European Parliament already supported Ukraine's membership application, but the process remains long and burdensome.

"A realistic prospect of EU membership is of huge importance to Ukraine," said liberal Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt.

German MEP Manfred Weber, leader of the group for the centre-right European People's Party, urged EU leaders to grant Ukraine EU candidate status — but also to Moldova, which faces its own security concerns in the Russian-speaking separatist region of Transnistria.

The European Commission is expected to deliver its opinion on the potential EU membership of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova ahead of the next summit.

Ukraine currently has an association agreement with the EU, but Kyiv has been seeking increasingly close cooperation and economic integration.

A few days after the Russian invasion, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called for Ukraine's immediate admission under a "new special procedure" on 28 February.

The price of defeat

Stefanchuk also thanked the European Union for implementing six packages of sanctions against Russia, despite their negative impact on European economies because "the price of defeat will be way bigger".

"But if the war is continuing, then perhaps more has to be done to make the war impossible for Putin," he said.

Stefanchuk said that Ukraine was ready to stand for common values — praising European Parliament president Roberta Metsola for being one of the first European leaders to visit Kyiv after the outbreak of the war.

Metsola, for her part, pledged to keep helping and supporting Ukraine.

"We cannot lose momentum, we cannot lose focus, we cannot turn away and allow war fatigue to set in," she said.

"What Ukraine has had to endure was unthinkable a few months ago, but your people have inspired the world," she added.

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