As a part of the EUkraine group, set up in the margins of the March meeting of EU foreign ministers, Bulgaria, together with like-minded countries, adopted a statement in support for Ukraine’s European path, the Foreign Ministry said on March 22.
Those present condemned Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war against Ukraine, which is causing untold suffering of the Ukrainian people and has created the biggest wave of displacement and refugees in Europe, not seen since the Second World War, the statement said.
“They expressed profound admiration for Ukraine’s bravery and courage in defending their land from Russia’s aggression and agreed that Ukraine is defending not just itself but all of us, our values and principles, our democracy, and our right to freely choose our partnerships and alliances, which is an inherent right of every nation,” the statement said.
In their fight for freedom and democracy the Ukrainians are demonstrating that they are true Europeans in spirit and in deed, it said.
“We cannot and must not fail to stand up for Ukraine in its existential battle for its survival as a free and sovereign nation. While reiterating our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, we must also support Ukraine’s European path by concrete action,” the statement said.
“We are therefore establishing an informal group of friends of European Ukraine, or EUkraine, with a view to providing all the necessary political and practical assistance to promote and realise Ukraine’s EU choice.”
It said that EU heads of state and government, at their informal meeting in Versailles on March 10 and 11, had acknowledged the application for EU membership signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Council had acted swiftly and invited the European Commission to prepare an opinion, the statement said.
“We have agreed to work with all EU member states and EU institutions to make sure that the European Council will also explicitly recognize a clear European perspective for Ukraine and that it will be granted a candidate status.
“We have agreed to continue providing all the necessary support and advice to Ukraine’s Government as it engages with EU institutions on all matters arising from its EU membership application.”
Like the EU itself and its enlargement policy, the EUkraine group is open to all who support Ukraine’s EU aspirations to join, the statement said.
“While fully cognisant and respectful of existing EU procedures for countries seeking EU membership, we believe that the EU should continue to send Ukraine clear and unequivocal signals regarding its future with the EU.
“As seen from decades of EU enlargement, the prospect of EU membership is a most powerful tool for peaceful transformation and growth, as well as for anchoring the democratic freedoms and values that bind us together,” the statement said.
It said that this applies for Western Balkans as well as for Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, which have just recently submitted their membership applications.
“Today, as these values and freedoms are under increasing attack from the world’s authoritarians, keeping the EU doors open is as important as never before.
“Ukraine is proving every day with its courage and, tragically, the blood of its people, that it is part of our European family of values. The time for EU to act is now,” the group said.
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service/ Lukasz Kobus)
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