Ukraine expects EU-wide support for bloc’s candidacy

KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian official overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union said on Wednesday he was “100%” certain that all 27 EU countries would agree to Ukraine’s EU membership during a summit this week. will approve the candidature.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed similar optimism, calling it a “critical moment” for Ukraine. Ukraine’s membership bid for the EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels is the top ranking of business.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishna said the decision could come as soon as Thursday, when the leaders’ summit begins.

Stefanishyna said the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark were skeptical about starting merger talks with Ukraine while it battles Russia’s aggression, but they are now supportive. Asked how confident she is that Ukraine will be accepted as an EU candidate, she said: “The day before the summit starts, I can say 100%.”

The EU’s executive branch last week put its weight behind Ukraine’s candidacy. Stefanishna described the European Commission’s support as “a game-changer”, which had taken ground from under “the feet of the most hesitant”.

EU candidate status, which can only be granted if existing member states agree unanimously, is the first step towards membership. It does not provide any security guarantee or automatic right to be included in the block.

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Ukraine’s full membership will depend on whether the war-torn country is able to satisfy political and economic conditions. Potential newcomers need to demonstrate that they meet standards on democratic principles and must absorb 80,000 pages of regulations covering everything from trade and immigration to fertilizers and the rule of law.

Stefanishina told the AP that she thinks Ukraine could become a member of the European Union within years, not the decades some European officials have predicted.

“We are already very integrated in the EU,” she said. “We want to be a strong and competitive member state, so it may take two to 10 years.”

The Block can provide technical and financial support to assist the candidates. European officials have said Ukraine has already implemented about 70% of EU rules, norms and standards, but have also pointed to corruption and the need for deeper political and economic reforms.

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In a virtual conversation with Canadian university students on Wednesday, Zelensky described the Brussels summit as “two decisive days” that, like Stephanishina, he thinks will approve Ukraine’s candidacy for the European Union. .

“It’s a very important moment for us, because some people on my team are saying it’s like going from darkness to light,” the Ukrainian president said. “In terms of our army and society, it is a great motivator, a great motivating factor for the unity and victory of the Ukrainian people.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Cru said on Wednesday he spoke with Zelensky and guaranteed him that Belgium would support Ukraine’s candidate position.

“Significant efforts will be required, especially in the fight against corruption and in establishing an effective rule of law,” de Crosse said. “But I believe it is exactly that” [postwar] Reconstruction of Ukraine that will provide opportunities to take important steps.”

In other developments, satellite images of Snake Island show damage from a Ukrainian attack on a Russian-occupied island in the Black Sea. Images from Maxar Technologies taken Tuesday show three new scorched areas that weren’t there four days ago. Russia and Ukraine offer conflicting accounts of the attack.

The Ukrainian Army’s Southern Command said it inflicted “significant damage” on Russian troops using “various forces and methods of destruction”, while the Russian Defense Ministry said its air defense successfully repelled the Ukrainian attack. The Russian army captured the small rocky island in the first days of the war and used it to consolidate its control over the northwestern part of the sea.

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