EU leaders OK candidate country status for Ukraine, Moldova

Brussels, Jun 23 (EFE).- The heads of state and government of the European Union on Thursday granted Ukraine and Moldova the status of candidate countries, the first step in enabling them to join the EU, after the European Commission recommended that move last week.

The heads of the Twenty-Seven on Thursday, at their summit in Brussels, thus began the process of bringing those two former Soviet republics into the bloc, a process that could be reversible if the pair do not carry out the reforms demanded by the EC regarding judicial independence, fighting corruption and organized crime and implementing the law limiting the power of oligarchs.

The European Council decided to recognize the “European perspective” of the nation of Georgia but still has not authorized “candidate country” status for that country, which was also at one time part of the Soviet Union.

European Council president Charles Michel announced on his Twitter account that the EC had granted the valuable status to Kyiv and Chisinau, calling it “an historic moment.”

The Belgian politician said that a crucial step had been taken to bring the two countries into the EU, and sent congratulations to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who spoke directly to European leaders after they made their decision, as well as to Moldovan President Maia Sandu.

Zelenskyy praised the EU decision on Twitter.

Michel also said that the EC was ready to grant candidate nation status to Georgia once that nation deals with pending priorities, adding that Georgia’s future “is in the EU.”

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also took to Twitter to congratulate Zelenskyy, Sandu and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, saying that their countries are part of the same “European family.”

She also said she was certain that the process of obtaining EU membership will be moved forward quickly because the leaders of the EU and the three nations know how critical that is for their democracies, economies and citizens.

She also said that the decisions made on Thursday in Brussels strengthen all EU members – as well as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia – in the face of “Russian imperialism” since they show the world once again that Europe is united and is strong in the face of external threats.

The granting of EU candidacy to Ukraine and Moldova had been guaranteed before the start of the summit, the EU leaders delayed for longer than initially scheduled in approving it because the green light was preceded by a broader-than-expected debate about the future of the process of broadening inclusion of the Western Balkan nations, according to various diplomatic sources.

This was a discussion that arose after the leaders of Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo publicly expressed their frustration at the end of the EU summit held this morning with the Western Balkan nations and which ended without eliminating the blockage of their EU admission process.

North Macedonia Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski said that the situation was a “serious problem” and a “harsh blow” to the EU’s credibility, adding that precious time was being lost, alluding to the veto being wielded by Bulgaria on beginning admission negotiations with Skopje and Tirana.

After those complaints, Austria and Slovenia, mainly, exerted pressure to more clearly set forth in the concluding statement from the EU summit the willingness of the bloc to admit the Balkan nations.

Earlier on Thursday, the plenary of the European Parliament resoundingly adopted a resolution – 529 votes in favor, 45 against and 14 abstentions – calling on EU leaders to “live up to their historical responsibility and give a clear political signal to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, confirming their European perspective.”

In the current context of the “brutal Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, this move would equate to showing leadership, resolve and vision,” the parliamentary members said.

The EU summit, which continues on Friday, will also focus on Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Conference on the Future of Europe and various economic issues.

EFE jug-drs-rja-cat/pddp/bp

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