24 Jun 2022 09:11

Ukrainian leaders hail European Council's decision to grant Ukraine EU candidate status

MOSCOW. June 24 (Interfax) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes the European Council's decision to grant EU candidate country status to Ukraine.

"Sincerely commend EU leaders' decision at the European Council to grant Ukraine a candidate status. It's a unique and historical moment in Ukraine-EU relations. Grateful to European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU leaders for support. Ukraine's future is within the EU," Ukrainian media outlets quoted Zelensky as saying on social media.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, in turn, has described the decision to grant EU candidate country status to Ukraine as a "new stage of European state-building for Ukraine", and thanked EU leaders for their decision.

"Historical day and new stage of European state-building for Ukraine. Official EU candidate status is about new reforms, large-scale approximation in all sectors of economy and process of full entering the EU internal market," Shmyhal said on social media on Thursday.

"We are full of energy to pass the way towards membership as fast as possible. Rely on support of our EU partners to reach high membership criteria and to rebuild Ukraine," the Ukrainian media quoted Shmyhal as saying.

Relations between Ukraine and the European Union are moving from the neighborhood policy to the enlargement policy, Shmyhal said in a joint video address with the Ukrainian president and the Verkhovna Rada speaker.

"Candidate status is a high evaluation of the market transformations that have enabled us to integrate into the EU economy in the energy, digital, customs, transport, and other sectors. These are new prospects and new opportunities for Ukraine. It is access to new EU financial support programs. These are new investments, new projects, new jobs, and support for reconstruction," Shmyhal said.

From now on, not only will Ukraine adopt European experience, but will be able to influence the formation of sectoral policies in the EU, while the process of Ukraine's integration into the EU has become irreversible, he said.

"From now on, Ukraine has a legal place in the European family. And relations between us and the EU are moving from the neighborhood policy to the enlargement policy," Shmyhal said.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, in turn, said that the United States will continue to support Ukraine, which is implementing further reforms for the sake of its European ambitions.

"I congratulate Ukraine and its people on receiving EU candidate status! This decision reflects Ukraine's significant achievements in deepening its European integration. The U.S. will continue to support Ukraine, which is implementing further reforms to realize the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people," Brink said on social media on Friday.