Eight EU countries, including Estonia, have called for Ukraine to "immediately" be granted candidate status to join the bloc and to open negotiations.
President Alar Karis wrote on social media on Monday that Estonia along with Bulgaria, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia were behind the call, which was issued by heads of state.
We "strongly believe that Ukraine deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective," a statement said.
"Therefore we call on the EU member states to consolidate highest political support to Ukraine and enable the EU institutions to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine an EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations," the statement said.
The presidents reiterated their strong support for Ukraine.
Together with Bulgaria, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia & Slovenia we call on the EU Member States to consolidate highest political support to #Ukraine & enable to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine an EU candidate country status & start negotiations. pic.twitter.com/wNHDYYFdWf— Alar Karis (@AlarKaris) February 28, 2022
Kallas: Moral duty to offer Ukraine candidate status
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said Estonia has always supported Ukraine joining the European Union.
"Now the brave people of Ukraine are fighting for Europe & our common democratic values," she wrote on social media on Monday.
"It is our moral duty to grant Ukraine EU candidate country status," she added.
#Estonia has always supported #Ukraine to join the #EU. Now the brave people of are fighting for Europe & our common democratic values. It is our moral duty to grant EU candidate country status. As @vonderleyen said yesterday, Ukraine is one of us and we want you in . https://t.co/065tAlcXl4— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) February 28, 2022
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy applied for candidate status. Afterward, Prime Minister of Ukraine of Denys Shmyhal wrote on social media: "This is the choice of Ukraine and [the] Ukrainian people. We more than deserve it."
On Sunday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine belongs in the EU. "They are one of us and we want them in," she said while announcing a package of aid to the country.
Currently, five countries are official candidates for EU membership: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey (whose bid has been effectively frozen for years), Politico Europe wrote.
Decisions have to be agreed by all of the bloc's 27 member countries and negotiations can take decades.
Editor: Helen Wright