UPDATE - EU starts membership talks with Ukraine, Moldova

UPDATE - EU starts membership talks with Ukraine, Moldova

Ukrainian, Moldovan, EU leaders hail development as 'historic'


By Ahmet Gencturk

ATHENS (AA) — The EU on Tuesday started membership negotiations with Ukraine.

Addressing the EU-Ukraine intergovernmental conference via video call, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyal said: “Today, we officially begin negotiations for Ukraine's accession to the European Union, a historic day, a historic moment for Ukraine and Europe and for our nation.”

“Ukraine’s future membership is the best answer to Europe's current challenges and a unique opportunity to strengthen the EU,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the EU, Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib agreed that the development marks a historic day for both parties and said: “Your country is part of Europe, European history, heritage and culture. We look forward to intensifying already well-established ties.”

The enlargement process is a strategic investment in peace security, stability and prosperity, and is a driver for improving the economic and social conditions of citizens, reducing disparities between countries, and foster the values on which the union is founded, she added.

Lahbib also reiterated that the EU remains committed to supporting Ukraine in defense of its territorial integrity as long as it takes.

In early June, the European Commission recommended negotiations on Moldova and Ukraine's accession to the 27-member bloc.

Last Friday, the EU Council gave the final green light to start accession negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine.

- Negotiations with Moldova also commence

Also speaking during the intergovermental conference between EU and Moldova, Lahbib praised the progress Moldova made since it was given candidate status.

"We want to intensify the already-consolidated ties. The EU remains committed to the process and we appreciate the efforts of the authorities to advance on the European path and implement the reforms," she said.

Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean, for his part, empahsized that the country would work to implement the EU's Community Acquis by 2030 and accelerate the process of adopting the necessary reforms to join the bloc as quickly as possible.

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