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Ukraine obtained EU candidate status, first step towards membership


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Ukraine received the green light from the European Union’s executive arm on Friday after it recommended the war-torn nation be granted “candidate status” as Kyiv seeks to join the 27-nation alliance.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Ukraine has clearly demonstrated its commitment to live up to European values ​​and standards. And it embarked, before the war, on its path to the EU.

“We recommend granting Ukraine candidate status, with the understanding that the country will carry out a number of important reforms,” ​​he added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen applauds after a speech by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video link during an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, June 1. March 2022.
(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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The senior EU official said that Ukraine had already implemented 70 percent of the EU’s “rules, norms and standards”, but noted that Kyiv had more work to do when it came to the “rule of law, the oligarchs , the fight against corruption and fundamental rights”.

Entry into the European alliance is “based on merit,” explained von der Leyen.

“Progress completely depends on Ukraine,” he added.

Leaders of the 27-nation bloc will discuss the president’s recommendation next week in Brussels during a summit.

Ukraine, along with Moldova and Georgia, formally applied to join the EU just days after Russia invaded the former Soviet republic with the intention of seizing its eastern and southern regions.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, right, and Poland's president Andrzej Duda, center, watch Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a screen at the main event of the "defend ukraine" global campaign to pledge funds for Ukraine and its refugees, at the Palace on Water, in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

European Commission Head Ursula von der Leyen, right, and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, center, watch Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a screen at the main event of the global campaign “Stand Up for Ukraine” to pledge funds for Ukraine and its refugees, at the Palace on Water, in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

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Moldova, which has also received direct threats from Moscow, was also recommended by von der Leyen as a “candidate” on Friday.

“Moldova is on a true pro-reform, anti-corruption and European path. It still has a long way to go. But we believe it has the potential to meet the criteria,” he said on Friday.

Georgia was not recommended to be given candidate status and instead the EU chief advised them to devise a plan showing a “clear path towards structural reform”.

Three of the EU’s biggest powers, including France, Germany and Italy, have shown solidarity with Kyiv and visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduces Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address the United States Congress via video on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduces Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address the United States Congress via video on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

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Although Ukraine appears to have broad support for joining the EU, it is unclear how quickly it could join the alliance.

“The Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” von der Leyen said on Friday. “We want them to live the European dream with us.”



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