EU Agrees to Open Membership, the decision was revealed Thursday during a summit of the leaders of the EU’s 27 member states. BRUXELLES The European Union voted to launch accession talks with Ukraine on Thursday, a watershed moment and dramatic reversal for a war-torn country that had struggled to secure support for its membership aspirations and had long faced staunch opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
EU Agrees to Open Membership Negotiations with Ukraine
The decision was made at a Brussels summit of the EU’s 27 leaders presided over by European Council President Charles Michel, who termed it “a clear signal of hope for their people and our continent.”
Although the process of initiating negotiations and eventually becoming a member may take many years, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the deal as a “victory for Ukraine.” “A triumph for all of Europe.”
“History is made by those who don’t get tired of fighting for freedom,” he stated. According to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, it is also a slap in the face for Russian President Vladimir Putin: “It is a very clear message to Moscow.” “We Europeans will not abandon Ukraine,” he declared.
Orban stated that his opposition remained unwavering, but with a unanimous decision required, he opted to relinquish his right to oppose because the 26 others were speaking so vehemently in favor. An abstention does not preclude a decision from being made under EU rules.
According to an EU official who requested anonymity since the summit deliberations were confidential, Orban was “momentarily absent from the room in a pre-agreed and constructive manner” when the decision was taken.
Orban stated that he stepped down because all of his counterparts were committed to placing Ukraine on the route to EU membership, albeit this did not change his mind.
“From Hungary’s point of view, Ukraine is not ready for us to begin negotiations on its EU membership.” “It’s an illogical, irrational, and wrong decision,” he remarked.
Others praised Orban’s offer as they prepared for a summit that some thought may last an extra day on Saturday.
“Certainly quicker than any of us expected,” remarked Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
“To be fair to Prime Minister Orban, he made his case, and he made it strongly.” He disagrees with the decision and is not changing his mind, but he has opted not to utilize his veto power,” Varadkar added.
“I respect the fact that he didn’t do that because it would have put us in a very difficult position as a European Union,” he said. De Croo of Belgium offered a slightly different take, claiming that Orban “didn’t use his veto because he realized it would be indefensible.”
Concurrently with Ukraine, EU leaders resolved to begin membership negotiations with Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova. Another agenda item held up by Orban is a vow to give Ukraine the money and resources it needs to repel a Russian invasion.
The Hungarian prime minister arrived at the summit vowing to both block his 26 counterparts’ plans to officially declare that membership negotiations with Ukraine can begin, and, more importantly, to deny Kyiv 50 billion euros ($54 billion) in financial aid that the country desperately needs to stay afloat.
“The European Union is about to make a terrible mistake, and they must be stopped — even if 26 of them want to do it, and we are the only ones against it,” Orban said in remarks posted by his office Thursday. “This is a mistake, we are destroying the European Union.”
The news was welcomed with cautious optimism in Kyiv.
“Europe is us. Ukraine is Europe, its epicenter. “I want us to be recognized as a proud member of Europe,” said Olha Paradovska, a Kyiv resident of 70 years.
Ivan Olezhko, 19, believes the decision to begin accession discussions has been long overdue. “If everything goes well, I will be happy, but we don’t know what will happen next,” he told reporters.
EU politicians expected the summit to last until late Friday before any form of breakthrough could be reached, therefore the catastrophic declaration came completely unexpectedly after Orban did not oppose his colleagues’ move.
A cheerful Unannounced, Michel entered the summit media room and stated, “This is a historic moment, and it demonstrates the credibility of the European Union.” The European Union’s strength. “The decision has been made.”
He stated that negotiations would begin before a report to the leaders in March.
The surprise came at a bad time for Zelenskyy, who had just returned from a trip to Washington when his demands for increased aid from the US Congress fell on deaf ears. In Brussels, Ukraine’s president was hoping for a better response.
“It is just as important that Ukraine has the means to continue the war and rebuild its country,” he said.
The Ukrainian president stated in a video address to the leaders gathered in Brussels that the urgency to find a solution is equaled only by the possible blow to the EU’s reputation.
“No one wants Europe to be perceived as untrustworthy. Or, as it was unable to make decisions, it prepared itself,” he explained.
“Whatever it takes” had been the EU’s unwavering motto in offering its support, with leaders clothed in Ukraine’s yellow and sky-blue colors and innumerable speeches finishing with the rallying cry “Slava Ukraini!” — “Glory to Ukraine!” And, once again, the EU triumphed against all odds.