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Zelenskyy calls for EU to 'do more' for Ukraine after bloc refuses immediate membership

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By Euronews  with AFP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 10, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 10, 2022.   -   Copyright  Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP   -  

The European Union should "do more" for Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday, after European leaders poured cold water on the country quickly joining the bloc. 

"We need to go harder. This is not what we expect," Ukraine's president said in a video on his Telegram channel.

"The decisions of politicians must coincide with the mood of their people, the people of Europe (...) The European Union must do more for us, for Ukraine."

Zelenskyy demanded last week that Brussels create a "new special procedure" to grant Ukraine "immediate membership".

His appeal on Thursday came a day after EU leaders ruled out such an immediate membership but acknowledged Ukraine's "European aspirations" at a summit in Versailles. They tasked the European Commission to draft an "opinion" on the request — a process that can take weeks.

Once the opinion is released, European leaders then have to unanimously decide to grant "candidate status" for Ukraine which is then followed by lengthy negotiations with the candidate expected to implement reforms to bring it in line with the rest of the bloc. 

Dutch Prime Minister stressed at the summit that there is "no fast track" to membership but that "we want to work intensively with Ukraine".

French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU must "send a strong signal to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in this hour of need".

He had said a day earlier during an event with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Paris that "the subject of the enlargement of the European Union cannot be looked at on a case by case basis."

"The question of Ukraine cannot be separated from that of all the Eastern partners and partnerships, with the exception of Belarus, which has chosen a different path, and the Western Balkans. This challenge in the coming weeks we will have to solve in Europe because the EU has to become the stabilising power on the continent," he added.

Both Moldova and Georgia have also applied to become EU member states since Russia launched its military invasion in Ukraine on 24 February.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission chief, said on Thursday evening that "we want a free and democratic Ukraine with whom we share a common destiny".

She told Euronews last month, ahead of the bloc imposing a third package of sanctions against Russia for its assault on Ukraine, that "indeed over time, they (Ukraine) belong to us".

"They are one of us and we want them in," she added, stressing that there are already "many topics where we work very closely together".