The heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) promised to support Ukraine “without delay” in European integration, in a statement released today.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, highlighted one of the conclusions of the meeting in Versailles, France: “without delay, we will further strengthen our ties and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing the European path”.
The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, wrote on the social network Twitter that the EU summit was “a historic night in Versailles”.
“After five hours of heated discussions, EU leaders said ‘yes’ to Ukrainian Euro-integration. The process has begun. Now it is up to us and the Ukrainians to bring it to fruition quickly. The heroic Ukrainian nation deserves to know that it is welcome to the EU”, he said.
In the joint communiqué, “the European Council recognized Ukraine’s European aspirations and European choice”, recalling the legitimacy of Kyiv’s request “to become a member of the European Union”.
“The [European] Council acted quickly and invited the [European] Commission to present its opinion on this request, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the treaties. Until then and without delay, we will further strengthen our ties and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family,” according to the statement.
European leaders also demanded “that the security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities be immediately ensured with the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency” and that “Russia cease military action and withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine.” immediately and unconditionally, and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognized borders”.
On the other hand, they recalled that they have already adopted “significant sanctions” against Russia and that they remain willing “to move quickly with more sanctions”.
On Thursday, EU heads of state and government began a two-day summit originally devoted to the economy, but focused on defense and energy, due to the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
Scheduled long ago by the current French presidency of the Council of the EU, this summit was entirely dedicated to the “new European model of growth and investment”, but the invasion of Ukraine by Russia two weeks ago and the consequences of the conflict for the European bloc imposed changes to the agenda of the meeting.
In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine that left at least 516 dead and more than 900 injured among the civilian population and caused more than two million people to flee to neighboring countries, according to the latest data of the UN.
The Russian invasion was condemned by most of the international community, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and reinforcing economic sanctions on Moscow.
Source: with agencies