European Union starts accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova

Heads of state and government signalled their willingness to begin accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova on Thursday evening during the European Summit in Brussels, European Council president Charles Michel announced on X.

The decision to open talks with Ukraine was made faster than expected. 26 of the 27 leaders wanted to respond to the European Commission's recommendation, but Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán stated his opposition on Wednesday.

Michel's tweet said the leaders had given their approval and that negotiations on EU accession could be started with Kyiv. "We have prepared this well," he said. "It was important that no member spoke against the decision so that we were able to make this announcement tonight." He spoke of "a strong political signal". "Tonight, we stand with the people of Ukraine. This decision is also extremely important for the EU's credibility."

Hungary abstains

Orbán left the room when the decision to begin negotiations was discussed. His absence allowed for a unanimous vote from the other 26 member states.

Orbán issued a statement via a video on X reiterating Hungary's disapproval. "It is a completely senseless, irrational and incorrect decision to start negotiations with Ukraine under these circumstances. And Hungary will not change its position," he said.

While he addressed being outnumbered, he held firm to his convictions, "On the other hand, 26 other countries insisted that this decision be made. Therefore, Hungary decided that if the 26 decide to do so, they should go their own way. Hungary does not want to share in this bad decision, and for this reason, Hungary did not participate in the decision today."

Ukraine and Moldova

In addition to Ukraine, there was also good news at the summit for Moldova, with which accession talks will also be initiated.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said on X that he was satisfied with the decision: "I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this. Today, my congratulations go to every Ukrainian." He also congratulates Moldova and president Maia Sandu: “History is made by those who do not give up fighting for freedom.”

Sandu said Moldova "feels the warm embrace of Europe" and thanked the EU "for its support and belief in our journey".

The leaders have also granted candidate status to Georgia and will open negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once the necessary criteria are reached. Their status will be reviewed in March.




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