Ukraine's president says starting EU accession talks this year will be a strong motivation for the country as it fights Russia's invasion.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday told European Union commissioners that starting membership talks with the EU this year was a top priority for Kyiv as it fights the Russian invasion.
In a video address to a meeting of the College of the European Commission, he said Ukraine has been working to implement its seven recommendations as swiftly as possible.
While Zelenskyy said Kyiv was not asking for “political discounts’, he believes it has done “much more than could be expected from a country that has been subjected to full-scale aggression".
Ukraine officially applied for EU membership on 28 February 2022, just four days after the start Russia’s invasion.
“Ukrainians have been and remain optimistic about the European Union. And our optimism is proved by how strongly the EU stands by its values and helps us defend our freedom and independence," he said.
In his nightly address to Ukrainians, Zelenskyy said the country was moving towards an “historic milestone” in its relationship with Europe as it works to open accession talks this year.
He said that in addition to the obvious historical importance for Ukraine as a state, the starting the process will have a positive psychological impact.
"The start of negotiations with the EU on membership will also have a substantial practical effect here and now, for all our people and our warriors. Motivation is also a weapon, and it needs to be recharged," he said.
The European Union's executive is set to present an assessment of progress made by Ukraine in its membership bid, on 8 November.
This will be a key step in the process, with a decision on whether to launch formal accession talks with Ukraine expected during a 14-15 December summit of EU leaders.