On Tuesday, the EU officially began accession talks with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. Belgium's Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib talked of this being a "historic moment for us all." However, it remains to be seen how long the negotiations will last and whether they will actually culminate in accession. Commentators discuss the next steps.

Vital for our country

EU membership for Ukraine would represent a strategic defeat for the Kremlin, former Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin comments on Gordonua.com:

“Moscow wanted our integration into the EU to be put on hold forever. As a result, both we and the EU shifted gears and jointly set the goal of moving forward - not just political declarations but real action. For us, this process is a matter of survival, our very existence depends on it. ... In the Kremlin they will go to any lenghts to prevent and torpedo our integration.”

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Not all hurdles have been overcome

Polityka points to certain obstacles:

“Ukraine's full accession is hard to imagine without – as EU diplomats put it – the 'stabilisation' of the demarcation line between it and Russia, which does not necessarily mean an official ceasefire, truce or peace. But even in times of war, Ukraine could be gradually integrated into other areas of the single market – provided the country implements reforms. ... On the other hand, the protests by Polish farmers against imports from Ukraine are an indication that gradual integration will encounter difficulties even in those countries that are most interested in ensuring that Russia does not win its war against Ukraine.”

Kyiv and Prague Agree to Produce Rifles, Ammo in Ukraine
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Kyiv and Prague Agree to Produce Rifles, Ammo in Ukraine

Ukrainian PM Denys Shmygal announced a new cartridge factory and Colt CZ Group assault rifle production in Ukraine during a press conference with Czech PM Petr Fiala.

Clearly accelerated

On the Moldovan news website agora.md, political scientist Laurențiu Pleșca observes:

“Although we're going through a similar process to the other EU accession candidates, in which we talk for years about the implementation of reforms, it's clear that the process is being accelerated for the Republic of Moldova and for Ukraine. Within two years we've gone from candidate to negotiating status. What's more, some of the deadlines for European integration are to be further shortened as part of the European Union's enlargement process. ... The referendum in the Republic of Moldova on European integration, which is slated for October, is a further step towards accelerating the country's European course.”

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