European Union flag is brought into Ukraine's Parliament
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Matti Maasikas, the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, said the EU flag had been brought to the plenary hall of the Parliament “to stay” – a claim reflecting confidence in that the candidate status granted by the bloc last week will materialise into membership.
Footage of the ceremony sparked an emotive response on social media, with those following the course of Moscow’s war on Ukraine saying the recent developments show Moscow won’t stop Kyiv’s “EU aspirations”.
On Twitter, a user under the handle @am_polak said: “This is a thing of beauty and is proof of the indomitable spirit of Ukrainians, and how Russia will not defeat them or their EU aspirations.”
Jan Bilek wrote: “I am an EU citizen and this is humbling.
“I feel like I need to do more for the EU so Ukrainians are not disappointed when they join.”
Charlotte Goodall said: “The EU is honoured and enhanced by Ukraine.
“You are fighting for everything we hold dear.”
Antonio wrote: “Most beautiful thing I’ve seen today.”
And user ecléctica added: “Welcome, welcome! We’re stronger together.”
The process for Ukraine to formally join the 27-nation bloc began last week and, while it is expected to take years before it becomes a member, Kyiv now has a “very clear European perspective”, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
In a speech to the Ukrainian Parliament via videolink on Friday, she said: “Ukraine is a candidate country to join the European Union – something that seemed almost unimaginable just five months ago.
“So today is first and foremost a moment to celebrate this historic milestone, a victory of determination and resolve and a victory for the whole movement that started eight years ago on the Maidan.”
Although her warm address heaped praise on President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government for its swift and successful push to become candidates for EU membership, Ms von der Leyen warned the assembly the journey wasn’t over yet.
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The EU chief listed a series of urgent measures the Union expected Ukraine to take. These include the adoption of a media law, the implementation of new rules that reduce oligarchs’ excessive clout and the appointment of top anti-corruption officials.
Ms Von der Leyen said: “You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine.
“But now these institutions need teeth, and the right people in senior posts.
“The next steps are within your reach. But they will require hard work.”
Throughout the process and as the conflict carries on, the EU Commission boss added, the bloc will continue to be with Kyiv.
She said: “There is a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union.”
President Zelensky, who urged lawmakers to pass the required measures, said his country has to become an EU member state fast.
He told Parliament: “Our path to membership must not take decades.
“We must traverse this path as quickly as possible. This depends on us.”
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