Ukraine could become EU member ‘in weeks’ as Zelensky submits application to bloc

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Mr Zelensky has long pushed for the country to join the EU, saying back in 2020 that “Ukrainians want to live in European Ukraine”. But the February invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has magnified the leader’s calls for admission to the bloc.

A poll carried out by Statista in March 2022 showed that 86 percent of Ukrainians asked by the pollsters backed Ukraine’s membership to the EU, with just five percent preferring to remain outside the bloc.

The Ukrainian President said he believed the submission of the form would see the country join the bloc within a matter of weeks.

He received the questionnaire during a visit from the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, when she visited Kyiv earlier this month.

At the time, Ms von der Leyen suggested it would take a “matter of weeks” for the Commission to judge Ukraine’s membership application, rather than the typical timeframe of years.

Mr Zelensky said the Ukrainian government “strongly” believed that the country would be granted candidate status to the EU “in the coming weeks”.

He described the move as “positive for the history of our people, given the price they paid on the path to independence and democracy”.

On Monday, the deputy head of the President’s office said he predicted Ukraine would gain candidate status during a meeting of the European Council in June.

A recommendation from the European Commission would also be needed, he said.

The EU has previously proved hesitant to initiate the processes which would see Ukraine join as a wartime addition.

President Zelensky has addressed the bloc’s leaders several times, including delivering an emotional address via videoconference at the end of March where he reiterated his plea for membership.

Much of Mr Zelensky’s speech was anchored in an “us” and “them” framework, where Russia posed a threat to the values of the EU, G7 and NATO.

Within this war of ideas, Ukraine had proven its worth as an EU member, he said.

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He told the bloc leaders: “These are different worlds — we and they.”

He added: “These are different values. This is a different attitude to life.

“The Russian military does not see what dignity is. They do not know what conscience is.

“They do not understand why we value our freedom so much.

“This determines how the country will live. And who should be in Europe.”

He continued: “Because during this month you have compared these worlds, and you see everything. You saw who is worth what.

“And you saw that Ukraine should be in the EU in the near future.”

Although a number of EU states have thrown their weight behind Ukraine’s application, others have been more tentative in backing Kyiv’s appeals for membership.

Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, commented that there could be “no fast-track procedure for accession”.

He added: “If we were to do that, we would turn the accession process into a political process, and that shouldn’t happen.”

However, a statement from the heads of government in the European Council in March said that “Ukraine belongs to our European family”.

It added that they would look to “deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path”, and would do so “without delay”.

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