Members of the European Union (EU) agreed on Thursday to open accession talks for Ukraine, signaling a positive step for Kyiv.
European leaders voted in agreement on Thursday to open negotiations for Ukraine to join the EU membership, European Council President Charles Michel announced on Thursday. The council also agreed to open similar negotiations for Moldova and granted candidacy status to Georgia.
“A clear signal of hope for their people and for our continent,” Michael said on Thursday. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who opposes allowing Ukraine into the EU, left the council chambers when the subject was brought up and was not present when voting began, allowing for a unanimous decision from the other European leaders present, according to Politico Europe. Orban said earlier in the day on Thursday that letting Ukraine into the EU would have “devastating consequences.” “Hungary does not want to be part of this bad decision!” Orban said on Facebook Thursday.
The task of bringing Ukraine into the EU fold will be challenging and take time, according to Bloomberg. Official negotiations will not begin until March and it could take years for the process to be finalized.
Still, it is being viewed as a positive by EU leaders and by Kyiv, who had applied for candidacy status days after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to Politico Europe.
“I thank everyone who worked for this to happen and everyone who helped. I congratulate every Ukrainian on this day,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday. “History is made by those who don’t get tired of fighting for freedom.”
Ukraine is also seeking membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) but has thus far been denied candidacy, as Western leaders feel the country should not join during a time of war. President Joe Biden said during a joint press conference with Zelenskyy this week that Ukraine will join NATO “when all allies agree and conditions are met,” according to MSNBC. “Right now, we have to make sure they win the war,” Biden said.
The European Council said that Ukraine will have to meet certain conditions if it wants to join the EU membership, including lobbying regulations and a harsher crackdown on corruption, according to Bloomberg. Ukraine has already adopted three EU conditions through legislation and plans to adopt the fourth soon.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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