Ukraine and Moldova have clearly opted for democracy, freedom and human dignity in their applications for European Union full membership, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says, while their official recognition as candidate nations, along with that of Georgia, as announced by European Council President Charles Michel Thursday, demonstrates the momentum towards this goal is now unstoppable.
Speaking at an EU leaders' meeting in Brussels Thursday, Kallas said: "Opening the door to new arrivals in the EU is geo-politically the region's greatest advance since the collapse of the Soviet Union."
"The accession of Ukraine and Moldova does not only mean that these peoples will have embraced Western values for good, but also shows the decline of the Russian and Kremlin mentality and the loss of control over many countries and nations," the prime minister went on, according to a government office press release.
History has been made. I'm glad that #EUCO has used the momentum and decided to give #Ukraine #EU candidate status.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) June 23, 2022
This confirms Ukraine's rightful position in Europe. They're fighting for the freedoms and values EU is founded on.
Ukraine and Moldova were designated official candidates for EU membership on the same day.
Kallas added that Estonia has been one of the biggest supporters of Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had expressed on the preceding day, and thanked all those diplomats who had put in the work and effort which resulted in the decision.
The expedited integration of the western Balkan region, namely the countries of Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, into the EU was also on the table at Thursday's meeting, of which Kallas said: "Estonia has been supportive of the western Balkans joining the EU and, especially in the light of the war in Ukraine, specific messages must be given on how to proceed."
The prime minister noted initiatives such as those concerning food and energy security, greening, the future of young people as pointing the way towards further integration of the Western Balkans, as well as last week's western Balkans Digital Security Forum in Tallinn, on the issue of cyber-security.
EU leaders approved the granting of candidate status to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia on Thursday night, European Council President Charles Michel announced.
Agreement. #EUCO has just decided EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova.— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) June 23, 2022
A historic moment.
Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU.
Congratulations @ZelenskyyUa and @sandumaiamd and the people of Ukraine and
Our future is together.
Ukraine applied for EU membership on February 28, while the European Commission has presented a seven-point road-map for the country's accession, and is due to submit a first assessment of the implementation at the end of this year.
Of the rest of the Balkans in its broadest geographical definition, Croatia joined the EU in 2013, Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, Slovenia in 2004, while Greece joined the EU's predecessor, the European Community, in 1981, and Turkey is not an EU member.
Moldova, formerly occupied by the Soviet Union, is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, and its territory roughly corresponds to the historical region of Bessarabia, while Georgia, which was also under Soviet occupation, is located in the Caucasus region, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea.
The Brussels EU leaders' summit continues Thursday, and will also look at economic issues and the future of Europe.
Editor: Andrew Whyte