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Estonian FM calls for EU to seize 'historic' moment and launch Ukraine negotiations

Margus Tsahkna at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on December 11, 2023.
Margus Tsahkna at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on December 11, 2023. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Ukraine is preparing for accession to the European Union and leaders should take steps to move the process forward, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) on Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

Discussing Russia's continued aggression in Ukraine, Tsahkna said he hoped the EU would use the "historic opportunity" this week to launch accession negotiations with Ukraine.

"Ukraine has done its homework and is ready to take the next step towards joining the EU. I truly hope that the EU leaders meeting later this week will take advantage of this opportunity," he said.

At the start of the meeting, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba briefed the ministers on the situation in Ukraine.

"While the West is getting ready to celebrate the holidays in their warm and safe homes, Ukrainians are fighting for the security of Europe and the values of us all despite relentless air strikes by Russia for almost 22 months now," Tsahkna said.

"We have promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine until their victory and we will do so for as long as necessary," he said, calling for aid deliveries to be sped up.

The minister said it is critically important to raise the cost of war for Russia and adopt additional sanctions. The 12th package is still being negotiated.

"I hope that all member states understand the importance of the decisions that have an impact on Europe and Russia's war, and we can come to an agreement on financial and military aid to Ukraine and EU enlargement," Tsahkna said.

Additionally, Tsahkna also said he was following developments in Israel and Gaza with a "heavy heart".

Margus Tsahkna at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on December 11, 2023. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

"Civilians in Gaza must be ensured continued, quick, safe, and stable humanitarian aid," he said, adding Israel is fully entitled to defend itself within international law against attacks by Hamas.

"I would also like to repeat that Hamas must immediately release the hostages they have taken from Israel," the minister said.

The foreign ministers also spoke about the situation in the Sahel region and held the annual meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU and Eastern Partnership countries.

On the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council, Tsahkna had a meeting with his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu to express support for the launch of EU accession talks with Moldova.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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