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Zelensky demands EU ‘fulfill obligations’ on Ukrainian membership

The European Commission had previously laid out a number of prerequisites before accession talks could begin

Kiev has fulfilled every requirement the EU has set out for it, and is ready to begin accession talks, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky stated in a video address on Sunday, demanding that the bloc now follow through.

Kiev made a formal request to join the bloc in February 2022, shortly after the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It was granted candidate status in June of the same year. In December 2023, EU officials agreed to open up accession negotiations, setting out a number of steps for Kiev to take first in preparation.

All these steps have been completed, Zelensky claimed in a video address on Sunday, promising that this is the year to bring “results with the European Union.”

“Ukraine has fulfilled all the necessary conditions for the real start of the accession negotiations, and now the EU side must fulfill its obligations,” he said.

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The EU’s accession criteria include stable democratic institutions, the rule of law, protection of human rights and minorities, along with a robust market economy and the institutional capacity to cope with the responsibilities of being an EU member state. 

One of the key issues to tackle was widespread corruption. Amid a string of high-level corruption scandals, lawmakers from Ukraine’s biggest sponsor – the US – expressed concerns about their aid being misused. Last month, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced plans to introduce a new logistics planning department, after several high-ranking military officials were arrested for embezzlement in the months before.

Kiev is currently preparing for a peace conference set to take place in Switzerland this June, Zelensky added. “The world majority must force Russia into peace – and it can do this,” he said.

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Moscow has not been invited to participate, and has dismissed the conference as “nonsense.” President Vladimir Putin reiterated earlier this month that Russia has not rejected a peaceful solution to the conflict, but would not accept a deal that ignore the country’s interests.

Kiev is also gearing up for the NATO summit this summer, according to the Ukrainian president. The US-led military bloc “should not be afraid of its own strength or shy away from its own foundations,” he said, calling for a “strong political signal.”

Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO – a goal enshrined in its constitution – was one of the key reasons for Russia’s military operation against Kiev, Moscow has stated. One of Russia’s major goals in the conflict is Ukrainian neutrality, Putin has said.

April 29, 2024 at 01:02PM

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