Ukraine begins talks to join European Union


The European Union and Ukraine began membership talks Tuesday, a process that could take years and which Russia has historically tried to prevent.

The talks come a decade after Russian troops seized the Crimean Peninsula to keep Ukraine from forming relationships with the West.

The accession negotiations began during an intergovernmental conference held in Luxembourg. Olga Stefanishyna, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, spearheads Ukraine’s delegation.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between Ukraine and the European Union,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at the start of the talks.

In a post on the social media site X after the EU agreed to talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “Generations of our people are realizing their European dream. Ukraine is returning to Europe.”

Moldova is due to start EU membership talks later on Tuesday.

A candidate country must align its laws and standards with EU policy on issues that include movement of goods, environmental concerns and security.

All 27 member countries must agree to an EU addition. Hungary has historically been an obstacle to Ukraine’s EU and NATO support.

“We are still at the beginning of the screening process. It’s very difficult to say at what stage Ukraine is in. From what I see here, as we speak, they are very far from meeting the accession criteria,” Hungarian Minister for European Affairs Janos Boka said.

If given member status, Ukraine would exceed France in territory to become the largest member of the bloc. Its status as a top grain producer would also affect EU agriculture policy.

Talks, while a milestone, could take years to finalize. Formal negotiations are unlikely to start for a few months.

Turkey has been in accession talks for almost two decades without an outcome. Other waiting countries include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Ukraine is seeking membership by 2030 but must first complete dozens of institutional and legal reforms.__VOA News