Estonia has launched a joint training program to prepare Ukrainian civil servants for the European Union's accession process. The first 10 officials visited Tallinn on Tuesday.
The scheme will increase participants' knowledge of the fundamental principles, goals, and functions of the EU, as well as the competencies of EU institutions and Member States, their division and relations to each other, and the role of institutions in the decision-making processes of the EU.
Officials expected to participate in accession negotiations in the coming years will take part in the course, which is called Capacity Building for EU Integration.
This includes representatives of public authorities, in particular ministries, the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and the Office of the President of Ukraine.
Seventy officials will participate this year and more next year.
The scheme has been developed by the Estonian Center for International Development (ESTDEV) and the Ukrainian Government Office for Coordination on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
It will also allow Ukraine to pursue its interests while participating in accession negotiations and to harmonize with the acquis by knowing what is expected from the candidate country in the European integration process, ESTDEV said.
Ukraine was granted candidate status last year.
Eva-Maria Liimets, leader of ESTDEV's Democracy and the Rule of Law program, said this is a "very demanding time for every country".
"In the case of Ukraine, acquis harmonization will tragically coincide with building up the war-damaged country. The aim of our training program is to support Ukraine and share Estonia's negotiating experience and lessons learned so that Ukraine does not have to reinvent the wheel along the way," she said, in a statement.
Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine for the EU-AU Portal for European Integration said the county is "doing everything we can" to start EU negotiations "as soon as possible".
"This process is completely new for Ukrainian institutions, so we must provide the finest opportunities for professional training. We are grateful to our Estonian partners for their support in sharing their experience with their Ukrainian counterparts," she said.
Capacity Building for EU Integration is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).
ESTDEV is a government foundation that manages and implements Estonia's participation in international development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects.
Editor: Helen Wright