Zelenskyy hails ‘victory’ as EU agrees to open membership talks for Ukraine | European Union Information

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European Council President Charles Michel says settlement a ‘sign of hope for his or her folks and for our continent’.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed a “victory” for Ukraine and the European continent after European Union leaders agreed to open membership talks along with his nation regardless of months of opposition from Hungary about Kyiv becoming a member of.

The choice was introduced on Thursday at a summit of the 27 EU nations, at which the bloc additionally agreed to open formal membership negotiations with Moldova.

European Council President Charles Michel, host of the summit, introduced the settlement in a social media put up, calling it “a transparent sign of hope for his or her folks and for our continent”.

Zelenskyy welcomed the choice as “a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe. A victory that motivates, evokes, and strengthens,” he mentioned in a put up on X.

European Fee chief Ursula von der Leyen mentioned it was “a strategic choice and a day that may stay engraved within the historical past of our union”.

“These nations belong to the European household,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz mentioned.

Michel mentioned the summit granted EU candidate standing to Georgia and would additionally advance an EU bid by one other hopeful – Bosnia and Herzegovina – as soon as it reaches “the required diploma of compliance” with standards.

From left, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Slovenia's Prime Minister Robert Golob speak during a round table meeting at an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. [AP Photo/Omar Havana]
From left, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob converse throughout a round-table assembly at an EU summit in Brussels on December 14, 2023 [Omar Havana/AP Photo]

Hungary not within the summit room

EU diplomats mentioned Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, was not within the summit room for the vote on Ukraine however knew and agreed different leaders would vote in his absence. For weeks, Orban had promised to dam the deal, which on Thursday he known as a “dangerous choice”.

“Hungary’s stance is evident: Ukraine isn’t ready for us to begin talks on EU membership,” he mentioned, calling the choice “irrational” and “inappropriate”.

Hungary’s chief had gone into the summit additionally promising to disclaim Kyiv 50 billion euros ($54bn) in monetary assist that the federal government desperately wants to remain afloat throughout its conflict with Russia.

“Twenty-six member states had been adamant that this choice should be made, so Hungary determined that if 26 resolve so, they need to go on their very own path and Hungary doesn’t want to take part on this dangerous choice,” Orban mentioned.

The EU, whose members nonetheless cherish their independence on strategic and overseas affairs points, usually works by consensus.

Negotiations proceed on the help for Ukraine, Orban mentioned.

Earlier this week, Zelenskyy travelled to the US, the place he lobbied for extra American assist, however his request faces giant hurdles in passing the US Congress.

Some EU leaders had warned earlier within the day that not agreeing to begin negotiations with Ukraine would have been seen as a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine launched its bid to turn out to be a part of the EU after Moscow’s invasion in February 2022 and was formally named a candidate to affix in June that yr.

Fellow former Soviet republic and neighbour Moldova had utilized similtaneously Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine has breathed new life into the EU’s stalled push to tackle new members because the bloc seems to maintain Russian and Chinese language affect at bay.

In June 2022, the European Fee set Kyiv seven reform benchmarks to finish, together with tackling corruption and curbing the facility of its oligarchs, earlier than talks ought to begin.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal mentioned the EU’s choice on Thursday confirmed that it “extremely appreciated the reforms now we have made in recent times and the implementation of all of the suggestions of the European Fee”.

“A tough path lies forward. We’re united and prepared,” he mentioned.

The talks themselves are more likely to take years.

EU treaties oblige members to assist “by all means of their energy” one other EU nation that’s sufferer of armed aggression on its territory. If Ukraine turns into an EU member whereas the conflict with Russia is ongoing, EU nations must respect that.

The EU would additionally purchase a protracted new border with Russia and Belarus with implications for safety, migration and defence.

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