European leaders on Thursday granted candidate status to Ukraine, a historic move that paves the way for the war-ravaged country’s EU membership.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels also approved Moldova’s candidate status and announced that Georgia is next in line once it meets certain conditions.
European Council President Charles Michel hailed the “historic moment” in a tweet congratulating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Moldova’s President Maia Sandu.
“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU … Our future is together,” he said.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, said it was “a good day for Europe.”
“Your countries are part of our European family. And today’s historic decision by leaders confirms that,” she said on Twitter.
“This decision strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in the face of Russian imperialism. And it strengthens the EU. Because it shows once again to the world that we are united and strong in the face of external threats.”
Von der Leyen said Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia “all have work to do before moving to the next stage of the process.”
“I know that they will move swiftly. They know how crucial this is for their democracies, their economies and their citizens,” she added.
Zelenskyy said Thursday’s decision marked a “unique and historical moment” in Ukraine-EU relations.
In a Twitter post, he thanked EU leaders and said he was grateful for their support.
“Ukraine’s future is within the EU,” he said.