Ukraine initiate talks to join EU

Ukraine has commenced EU accession talks, a historic move that follows over a decade of pro-Western aspirations despite Russian opposition. This symbolic event was marked by a meeting in Luxembourg and underscores Ukraine’s enduring struggle amid ongoing conflict with Russia.

On Tuesday, Ukraine officially began its journey towards European Union membership, more than ten years after the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, which demanded a pro-Western direction for the country despite Russian threats and subsequent invasions.

EU ministers convened with Ukrainian officials in Luxembourg to celebrate the start of a process that, while expected to span several years, represents a significant symbolic milestone for Ukraine as it continues to resist Russia’s full-scale invasion, now entering its third year.

“Today is a historic day as we embark on real negotiations with the European Union regarding Ukraine’s membership,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Tuesday. “When we signed the application for EU membership on the fifth day of the full-scale war, many believed it was just a dream. But we have turned this dream into reality.”

Ukrainian EU affairs minister Olha Stefanishyna, who attended the Luxembourg meeting, emphasized to the Financial Times that “we have moved from promises to delivery,” noting that the decision was “merit-based,” with Ukraine meeting all criteria to begin negotiations.

On the same day, the EU also initiated talks with Moldova, another former Soviet republic that applied for EU membership shortly after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

European Council President Charles Michel remarked that both countries are “embarking on a true transformation into full EU membership — a proud moment for both nations and a strategic step for the EU.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock highlighted the significance of this step. “Putin wanted to annex Ukraine. Instead, the country is now closer to the EU than ever before,” she said.

During the meetings, the EU will outline a “negotiating framework” of necessary reforms and legislation for both countries to adopt before achieving full membership status.

The timing of these talks was crucial, occurring just before Hungary, known for its pro-Russia stance, takes over the rotating presidency of the EU on July 1. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has previously delayed several Ukraine-related decisions but eventually agreed to the start of membership talks, hinting that Budapest could still veto the process in the future. EU officials anticipate substantial negotiations to begin under the Polish presidency starting January 1.

Stefanishyna expressed optimism, stating, “starting from 2025, we will push for a very dynamic accession process.” This commencement of talks marks a monumental step for Ukraine, with approximately 90% of Ukrainians, according to polls, viewing their future within the EU.

In 2013, tens of thousands of Ukrainians participated in the “Euromaidan” protests following then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to abandon a closer association with the EU. The movement led to Yanukovych fleeing to Russia and set Ukraine on a decidedly pro-Western path, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats. The uprising, which resulted in the deaths of over 100 protesters and 13 police officers, was followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, and the 2022 full-scale invasion, resulting in over 15,000 civilian deaths according to UN estimates, with actual numbers likely higher. Ukraine has reported over 100,000 military casualties since 2022, with Western estimates of Russian casualties at least 350,000.

(Associated Medias) – All rights reserved