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Lauren Boland/The Journal
Europe

Taoiseach promises to push for Ukraine EU membership at June summit

He said it is “very clear to me that the future of Ukraine is within the European Union”.

THE TAOISEACH HAS promised to push for progress on Ukraine’s application to join the European Union at a leaders’ summit later this month.

Ireland should not block any country that wishes to join the union, he said.

Within days of Russian forces invading Ukraine in February, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted an official request for Ukraine to join the European Union.

EU leaders are expected to discuss the application at a European Council meeting at the end of this month alongside a recommendation from the European Commission on whether its application should be accepted.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he intends to advocate for the application to be approved.

He made his comments at the ALDE Party Congress – Fianna Fáil’s political group in the EU – which is taking place at the Convention Centre in Dublin.

The Taoiseach met with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna to discuss Ukraine’s application to the EU.

“I’ve been a strong advocate for this from the beginning for a number of reasons. First of all, this is the core of what the European Union is about in terms of defending democratic values, the opposite wto what Putin wants,” the Taoiseach said.

“Number two, Ireland, back in 1972 when it was hoping to join the EU, there was a lot of criticism – we were the poorest state in democratic Europe at that time, many people didn’t think we would survive in the European Union,” he said.

“We’ve witnessed over 50 years the transformation that occurred due to our membership of the European Union.

I’ve always been very reluctant that Ireland should be a blocker of any country that wants to be a candidate to join the European Union because we have benefitted so much from membership of the European Union.

He said it was his “strong view” that Ukraine’s application for candidate status “should be affirmed”.

“I’ll be advocating for that with my European Union Council colleagues over the next number of weeks at the June summit.

“It’s very clear to me that the future of Ukraine is within the European Union. I believe around the broader question of enlargement of the EU that we need an acceleration of the application process more generally.”

Before formal negotiations begin on a country acceding to the EU, the bloc must first name it as an official candidate.

Deputy Prime Minister Stefanishyna said that Ukraine is “ready to take as long as it needs” to complete the process of joining the EU.

“The history of Ukrainian independence was done with promises, from Budapest when Ukraine withdrew from nuclear weapon to Bucharest where Ukraine was promised membership to NATO which has never been materialised,” Stefanishyna said.

“We’ve submitted the application. We’ve done very much to be already very much integrated in the European Union. We need promises to be materialised.”

She thanked Ireland for helping Ukrainian people “who were running out of their houses and homes to survive from the war” for “the hospitality and the warmness with which you mobilised your efforts, mobilised support”.

“These people already suffered so much. They were running and escaping from the shellings and now they have this feeling of security.”

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