EU summit decides to launch membership talks with Ukraine

Must read

EU summit decides to launch membership talks with Ukraine © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

By Gabriela Baczynska and Andrew Gray

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -European Union leaders unexpectedly agreed on Thursday to open membership talks with Ukraine, something Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for weeks had vowed to block.

Hungary said it was a bad decision, after the chairman of the summit, European Council President Charles Michel, said: “The European Council has decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine & Moldova.”

He went on to say the summit granted EU candidate status to Georgia and would also advance an EU bid by another hopeful – Bosnia – once it reaches “the necessary degree of compliance” with criteria.

“This is a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires, and strengthens,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Orban said on Facebook (NASDAQ:) that he had abstained and did not want to take part in what he called a bad decision.

Earlier in the day as the 27 EU leaders gathered for their last summit of the year, Orban insisted that the EU should not start membership talks with Ukraine.

Officials had warned they were bracing for a long, and tough summit.

Michel did not spell out how the decision, which required unanimity, was taken.

Ukraine badly needs support from its Western allies in its nearly two-year fight against Moscow’s invasion. Its counter-offensive has failed to make major gains and the Biden administration has so far been unable to get a $60 billion aid package for Kyiv through the U.S. Congress.

Orban was a lone hold-out at the summit, taking place at a critical time for Kyiv in its war against Russia’s invasion.

Other EU leaders had warned earlier in the day that not agreeing to start negotiations would have been seen as a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

More articles

Latest article