Wednesday, 17 August, 2022

Zelensky hails Ukraine-EU ties

Zelensky hails Ukraine-EU ties

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that Ukraine and the European Union were starting a new chapter of their history after Brussels formally accepted Ukraine's candidacy to join the 27-nation bloc.

"A new (chapter) of history for the European Union and Ukraine has started. Now we're not close. Now we are together," Zelensky said addressing Ukraine's parliament.

He said it was a "big honour and big responsibility" to work towards realising the "aspirations of our country".

"We made a journey of 115 days to candidate status and our journey to membership shouldn't take decades. We should make it down this road quickly," Zelensky said.

"Ukraine is fighting to choose its values, to be in the European family," he said.

Also on Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Ukraine's parliament by video link that EU membership was "within reach" but urged them to press forward with anti-corruption reforms.

Following their speeches, an EU flag was brought into the building of Ukraine's parliament -- the Rada -- and placed next to the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine.

Ukraine applied for EU membership just five days after Russia's February 24 invasion and the 27-member bloc accepted its candidacy on June 23, in a strong signal of support.

But the accession process could take many years, and the candidacies of Turkey and several countries in the western Balkans have stalled as western capitals insist on tough economic and legal criteria.