Brussels [Belgium], June 24 (ANI): EU leaders have decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and to the Republic of Moldova.
"The European Council has decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and to the Republic of Moldova. The European Council recognises the European perspective of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia. The future of these countries and their citizens lies within the European Union," EU wrote in its press release.
The European Council further said that it is ready to grant the status of the candidate country to Georgia once the priorities specified in the Commission's opinion on Georgia's membership application have been addressed.
"The progress of each country towards the European Union will depend on its own merit in meeting the Copenhagen criteria, taking into consideration the EU's capacity to absorb new members," the statement read.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the decision, calling it "a unique and historic moment" in relations with the 27-nation bloc. "Ukraine's future is in the EU," he tweeted.
Moreover, Moldovan President Maia Sandu tweeted that the decision was a "strong signal of support for Moldova and our citizens." German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted his congratulations to the two countries.
"The European Council welcomes two new candidate countries to join the EU," said Scholz adding, "Here's to good cooperation in the European family."European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was convinced that Ukraine and Moldova would move as swiftly as possible to implement necessary reforms. "I am deeply convinced that our decision that we have taken today strengthens us all," she said.
Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that it had been a "historic moment."Earlier, last Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had said that the bloc has recommended granting a candidate member state status to Ukraine. "We recommend giving Ukraine the candidate status, on the understanding that the country will carry out a number of important reforms. Ukraine has clearly shown commitment to live up to European values and standards. And embarked, before the war, on its way towards the EU," von der Leyen had tweeted.
Reacting to this, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Friday said the decision to grant an EU candidate member state status to Ukraine requires increased attention from Moscow.
"It requires our increased attention because we all know about the intensification of discussions in Europe on the subject of strengthening the defence component of the European Union, the military, defence and security component," Peskov told reporters when asked how Moscow assesses Kyiv's prospects for joining the bloc. (ANI)