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“The time has come”: Zelensky called on the EU to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession

May 9 is now Europe Day in Ukraine. While the country had previously celebrated “Victory Day”, on the occasion of the capitulation of Nazi Germany in 1945, Vladimir Zelensky, like his Russian neighbor, decided to put aside this Soviet past in order to look towards Europe.

The program of this Europe Day celebration includes the reception of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission in Kyiv to discuss possible EU membership, but not only…

“Ukraine is fighting for the ideals of Europe”

“It is high time to remove this artificial political uncertainty in relations between Ukraine and the EU. The time has come to make a positive decision to open accession negotiations,” the President of Ukraine said during a joint press conference with Ursula von der Leyen.

The EU granted Kyiv official candidate status in June 2022 but calls for further reforms, including fighting corruption. The opening of accession negotiations must be adopted unanimously by the Member States on the proposal of the Commission.

“Ukraine is fighting for the ideals of Europe, which we celebrate today. In Russia, Putin and his regime have destroyed these values. And now they are trying to destroy them here, in Ukraine,” added the chairman of the commission, without mentioning EU membership.

If the West promises Ukraine possible EU and NATO membership, Brussels estimates that negotiations will take six to 10 years after they open, while Kyiv wants much faster integration.

Shells and cereals

But membership in the European Union was not the only subject of discussion on Tuesday. The President of Ukraine also thanked the head of the European Commission after the decision of the EU to provide Kyiv with a “million shells” of artillery pieces, before insisting on a deadline. “We discussed a key issue: the speed of supply and delivery of these ammunition. We already need him on the battlefield,” he recalled.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy also brought back to the discussion the topic of European restrictions on the export of Ukrainian agricultural products. “Any restriction on our exports is now absolutely unacceptable, because it enhances the capabilities of the aggressor,” the head of the Ukrainian state complained. While condemning “strict, even brutal protectionist measures,” the Ukrainian president expressed “disappointment” and called for “all restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible.”

Five countries – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania – took measures to protect their own markets from the influx of Ukrainian grain, which caused prices to fall, threatening local farmers. Brussels, which suspended customs duties on Ukrainian food for one year in May 2022, found these restrictions “unacceptable” at the height of the war.

“The immediate priority today is to ensure that grain transit occurs transparently and at the lowest possible price. This requires very close cooperation with various parties,” said the Chairman of the Commission. It is also joining Europe.

Source: Le Parisien

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