BRUSSELS/KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine now has a “very clear European perspective”, but the road to EU membership will take time and require hard work, the Commission President told a the Ukrainian parliament.
The European Council granted Ukraine candidate status for EU membership in June, officially launching a process that is expected to take years before the country becomes a member.
In a speech delivered by videoconference to the Ukrainian parliament, the president of the European executive Ursula von der Leyen underlined the progress made by Kyiv on its path to membership, while the country resists the offensive launched by Russia on February 24.
“Ukraine now has a very clear European perspective. And Ukraine is a candidate country for membership of the European Union, which seemed almost unimaginable just five months ago,” she told Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky and MPs, who clapped in unison as a huge EU flag was brought into the room by three National Guard servicemen.
“The road is long, but Europe will be with you every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from those dark days of war until you walk through the door to our European Union,” said she said, while noting that the country should undertake many reforms as soon as possible, particularly with regard to the media, the influence of the oligarchs and the appointment of senior officials for the fight against corruption.
“The next steps are within your reach. But they will require hard work,” added Ursula von der Leyen.
The Ukrainian President in turn said that Ukraine should be able to quickly become an EU member country.
“Our path to membership should not take decades. We must travel this path as quickly as possible. It is up to us,” said Volodimir Zelensky.
(Reporting Charlotte van Campenhout, John Chalmers and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels and Max Hunder in Kyiv; French version Diana Mandiá, editing by Kate Entringer)
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