Dear Ukrainian people!
120 days ago, Russia launched a full-scale war against us. For 120 days, Ukraine and its people have heroically defended their land and their freedom.
They are fighting one of the greatest armies in the world. The aggressor, whose population is three times larger than ours, and the area is almost 30 times larger. Therefore, each of the 120 days of our struggle is historic. But this day is special.
Ukraine has officially received the status of candidate for membership of the European Union.
We have heard many statements from many politicians over the years about the course towards Europe and the strategic importance of this course. We are not politicians and we do not have many years, so we have gone from declarations to action.
From dream to action. And on February 28, Ukraine applied for EU membership.
On Bankova Street, in the office of the President of Ukraine, amid fortifications and sandbags, in the pauses between the sirens of the air alarm, we signed a document. Many people were skeptical and saw Ukraine’s chances as illusory.
But we are all united. United Ukraine. And the world saw our unique characteristic: the less they believe in us, the better we perform. Instead of thousands of words, thousands of slogans about the transition to the EU, we filled in thousands of pages of the European Commission‘s questionnaire. What other countries took a few years to do, we did it in a few weeks.
At the Brussels summit, the leaders of the 27 EU member states adopted an official decision: Ukraine receives the status of candidate for membership of the European Union.
And today I want to give a series of honest, clear and complete answers for everyone. Complete our questionnaire. Explain in human language what exactly happened and why it is so important. What does this mean for us and what does it mean for Ukraine? What does this mean and what does it bring to Europe? And then ? What are we going to do? What do our partners expect from us? What do we expect from partners? What do we expect from you as a company? And why will we definitely succeed?
First, candidate status is not just another step. It’s a new high. Not a new paragraph, not a new page or even a new section. This is a new volume in the history of European integration of Ukraine, which we started writing today. And so far, this book has no other options than one: Ukraine will become a member of the EU in the future. As of today, this is fixed at the official level.
Candidate status is a mandatory step that most countries have taken. It is a point of no return. It’s not just a new name or a new sign. It’s a new status and a new image.
Today it is recognized: Ukraine is not a bridge, not a pillow between the West and Russia, not a buffer between Europe and Asia, not a sphere of influence, not a “grey” zone, not a transit territory. Not the border between orcs and elves.
Ukraine is a future equal partner for at least 27 EU countries.
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk:
EU candidate status is recognition of our achievements in becoming a mature democratic European society. The strengths of our institutions that continue to function effectively even in times of large-scale war.
It is a strong political message. It will be heard by the soldiers in the trenches, every family who has been forced to flee war overseas, everyone who helps bring our victory closer.
But we will also hear it in the bunker. We cannot change geography. Russia will continue to be our neighbour. But this decision changed history. And in this case, history has won over geography.
Behind us is a column of the Magdeburg law. It was installed at the place where Volodymyr the Great baptized Kyivan Rus’-Ukraine. Hundreds of years later, this column was fortified with protective shields against Russian bullets and shells. It is an eloquent symbol of how they want to destroy our culture, our faith, our law.
Our history. But history will win. The future will win. Ukraine will win.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal:
Candidate status is a high assessment of market transformations that have enabled us to integrate into the EU economy in energy, digital, customs, transport and other key sectors.
These are new perspectives and new opportunities for Ukraine. Access to new EU financial support programs. These are new investments, new projects, new jobs and support for post-war reconstruction.
From now on, our state will not only adopt the European experience, but will also be able to influence the formation of sectoral policies of the European Union. From now on, the process of Ukraine’s integration into the EU has become irreversible.
From now on, Ukraine has a legal place in the European family. And relations between us and the EU are moving from neighborhood policy to enlargement policy.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky:
Even simpler. In terms of not political, but human relations. Obtaining candidate status is a commitment. A serious step in the relations between Ukraine and the EU. It is not just friendship, not sympathy, but a firm and official intention to become one in the future. In the near future.
And from today, Ukraine will be able to join the work of some bodies and new programs of the EU, access to which is limited to third countries. Today we got rid of this humiliating definition. Ukraine has never been like that in essence, but the official terminology calls us that. We got rid of it. We are not a third country. Not a tenth, not a hundredth, we are a future member of the European Union.
Today is an important day. We hear the Ode to Joy. Joy, but no euphoria. There is a lot of work to do. Everyone’s work in their place. The cohesion of all branches of government and society is key to our success.
Despite the war, we continue to apply EU legislation, standards and rules in all areas of life. The government will develop an appropriate roadmap.
The next steps are known – we have the recommendations of the European Commission.
We expect the Verkhovna Rada to approve laws on European integration as a matter of priority. We expect from all of you a high civic awareness, a dedication to our values and the awareness that no one will build a European Ukraine for us, except us.
I would like to underline a very important point. We are changing Ukraine for ourselves, not for anyone else. We implement reforms not because of someone else’s demands, but because of our own beliefs. Ukraine is not looking to join, but to return to the European family. In 2014, the Ukrainian people resisted and defended their European future. But he chose it much earlier.
Because democracy existed here more than a thousand years ago. In Kyivan Rus’ times, when people joined in solving important issues in veche. Human rights, human life were already valued a thousand years ago. Kyivan Rus’ is probably the only medieval state where the death penalty did not exist.
700 years ago there was a widespread legal system of local self-government. 700 years ago, Ukrainian cities already had the law of Magdeburg. Historians say that the borders of Europe are the outskirts of the last eastern city, which has the law of Magdeburg. It took root no further than eastern Ukraine.
500 years ago, our ancestors chose their own leaders. Zaporizhzhia hetmans and Kish otamans were not appointed by the king, tsar, boyars, nobility or aristocracy, but were freely and equally elected by all Cossacks.
For centuries, our people have been attached to the principles of tolerance and respect. Hundreds of national communities and representatives of all religious denominations have lived and still live in peace and harmony on our land.
Today, Ukraine is fighting for its freedom. And this war started just as Ukraine declared its right to freedom. To his choice of his future. We have seen it in the European Union. No matter how someone convinced us that no one wanted us there and that a happy future for Ukraine was possible in a completely different union called Customs. And no matter how surprised they were that Ukrainians preferred freedom to cheap gasoline. We have chosen the path.
The path determined by our people, not someone’s power. Chosen by Maidan Nezalezhnosti, not Red Square. The path the Granite Revolution fought for in 1990, the Orange Revolution stood on barricades in 2004, and the Heavenly Hundred gave lives during the Dignity Revolution in 2014. This is when the Ukraine’s voice sounded the loudest. This is where we have firmly chosen our path. That is why the Russian Federation appeared there, annexing Crimea, occupying part of Donbass and later unleashing a full-scale war against the whole of Ukraine. And that is why this EU decision is so important, motivates us and shows: all this is not only necessary for us. After declaring our desire to go to the EU, we finally heard today clearly: we are waiting for you! You are welcome! We want to see you as a full member of our family.
All of this was not in vain. And our struggle is not in vain. Ukraine has truly united. Ukraine is really fighting. Ukraine will definitely win. Really!
Ukraine. Europe. World. Humanity.
Glory to Ukraine!
Glory to the Heroes!
Top photo: the president’s office