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EU agrees to start examining Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova requests

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EU nations agreed Monday to start the lengthy process of examining membership bids submitted by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in the wake of Russia’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbour, diplomats said.

The ex-Soviet states last week rushed in highly symbolic applications to join the bloc after the Kremlin launched its attack on Ukraine.

The move by the 27 member states is the first step in the bloc’s notoriously complex process for deciding whether to allow new members to join, which can drag on for years.

EU ambassadors agreed to ask the bloc’s executive to present an “opinion” on the applications from the three countries, said French officials, who hold the EU’s rotating presidency.

The executive can take years to render its opinion and after that the member states have to agree unanimously to let the applicant formally become a “candidate”.

That then kickstarts a process of painstaking reforms and negotiations that usually takes at least a decade to complete.

Ukraine has pleaded with the bloc to be granted a fast-track to membership as it faces an onslaught from Moscow’s forces.

While Kyiv has won backing from a number of EU nations to become a candidate, others are reluctant to commit to opening up a clear path for the war-shattered country.

EU leaders are set to discuss the applications this week at a summit in France focused on the war in Ukraine and the bloc’s response to the crisis.

The bid for membership carries major symbolic weight for Ukrainians as Moscow tries to drag the country back into its sphere of influence.

A decision in 2013 by Ukraine’s then-leader to reject closer ties with the bloc unleashed pro-EU protests that set in train a spiral of events leading to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the confrontation with the Kremlin.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.




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