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EU membership talks with Kyiv, Moldova
Published on: Saturday, June 22, 2024
By: AFP
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EU membership talks with Kyiv, Moldova
Zelenskyy (centre) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) with the Ukrainian and European Union flags after a meeting in Kyiv.
LUXEMBOURG: EU countries on Friday formally approved launching accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova next week, a landmark event for the two countries at the start of their long path towards joining the bloc.

European Union ministers will start negotiations first with Ukraine and then with Moldova in Luxembourg on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

Ukraine—followed by its neighbour Moldova—lodged its application to join the 27-nation EU in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion.

Starting the negotiations will still only put the two ex-Soviet states at the beginning of what is likely to be a years-long process of reforms before they can finally become members.

EU leaders took the key step in December of agreeing to open talks on war-torn Ukraine—and Moldova—joining the club.

But to actually begin the negotiations the bloc’s members still had to sign off on a formal framework for the process.

The EU’s executive told member states this month that Ukraine and Moldova had met all the criteria needed to launch the talks.

Pressure has grown to move Ukraine onto the next step in its quest for membership, in the face of fears that Hungary could stall progress when it takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in July.

Hungary—the friendliest country to Russia in the EU—has said it does not intend to hold any further rounds of talks with Ukraine during its six months at the helm.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has reinvigorated a push in the EU to take on new members, after years in which countries particularly in the Western Balkans made little progress on their hope to join.

The EU in December 2023 also granted candidate status to another of Russia’s former Soviet neighbours, Georgia.

It has also approved accession negotiations with Bosnia and has opened such talks with Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said administrations should install solar panels in all hospitals and schools in the country following a wave of devastating Russian strikes on Ukrainian power plants.

“Solar panels, smart meters, and energy storage units must appear in every school and hospital as soon as possible,” Zelensky said in a statement on social media, urging the government to roll out tax breaks and loans for Ukrainians seeking to use energy-saving technology.

Ukraine said on Friday it had launched drone attacks on several oil refineries and military centres in southern Russia, which Moscow said killed one person.

Russia said it had neutralised 114 drones.

Kyiv has carried out several attacks on Russian oil refineries in recent months, arguing they are fair targets given that they fuel Moscow’s military.

Russia has also launched dozens of devastating attacks on Ukrainian power plants.

Ukraine has said is dispatching reinforcements to an embattled strategic hilltop town in the eastern Donetsk region, a vital flashpoint whose capture could accelerate Russian advances deeper in the industrial territory.

“Units of the 24th Mechanized Brigade have been redeployed to strengthen the defence of the Chasiv Yar sector,” the grouping said in a statement. 

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