EU to deepen ties with Ukraine, short of admitting it into the bloc
The EU intends to further deepen and develop its partnership with Ukraine, even though Kyiv is still not officially a candidate to join the bloc, the leaders of EU’s 27 member states announced after a five-hour-long meeting in Versailles, France on March 10.
“On 28 February 2022, exercising the right of Ukraine to choose its own destiny, the President of Ukraine submitted the application of Ukraine to become a member of the European Union,” the message reads.
“The Council has acted swiftly and invited the Commission to submit its opinion on this application in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties.”
“Pending this and without delay, we will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path; Ukraine belongs to our European family.”
The European Council also “invited” the European Commission to submit its opinions on Moldova’s and Georgia’s applications to join.
The message states that “two weeks ago Russia brought war back to Eu-rope,” and reiterated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “grossly violates international law and the principles of the UN Charter and undermines European and global security and stability,” and inflicts “unspeakable suffering” on the Ukrainian people.
“Russia and its accomplice Belarus bear full responsibility for this war of aggression, and those responsible will be held to account for their crimes, including for indiscriminately targeting civilians and civilian objects,” the council said.
“In this respect, we welcome the decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation.”
The EU called for International Atomic Energy Agency’s immediate involvement in maintaining the security and safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
“We demand that Russia ceases its military action and withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine immediately and unconditionally, and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognized borders,” the message said.
The council commended the courage with which Ukrainians are defending their country and “our shared values of freedom and democracy.”
“We will not (abandon) them; the EU and its Member States will continue to provide coordinated political, financial, material and humanitarian support,” leaders of EU countries said.
“We are committed to providing support for the reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine once the Russian onslaught has ceased,” the leaders said, adding that the European Union is prepared to increase sanctions on both Russian and Belarus in addition to the measures already taken.
The council also confirmed the bloc’s status as safe haven for Ukrainian refugees.
On Feb. 28, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky formally applied for Ukraine to join the EU via a special procedure. Georgia and Moldova fol-lowed suit shortly thereafter.
On March 1, the European Parliament supported the resolution to extend EU member candidate status to Ukraine.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said she supports Ukraine’s accession to the EU.
Following the Russian invasion, Slovakia’s PM Eduard Heger suggested that Ukraine be offered a “special EU integration path.” Poland supported this initiative.
Germany and the Netherlands are opposed to fast-track admittance of Ukraine to the union, while French President Emmanuel Macron said that Ukraine couldn’t join the EU during an ongoing war.
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