Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday said that Ukraine will be eligible to become a European Union membership candidate within the next few years, the UNIAN news agency reported.
“I believe that in the coming years Ukraine will enjoy a legitimate right for status of candidate country for EU membership thanks to our hard work and changes in the state,” said Poroshenko, according to UNIAN.
The Ukrainian president’s prediction came on the first year anniversary of the signing of the Association Agreement - a treaty between the European Union, its member states and a non-EU country that generates a structure for co-operation between the three main bodies.
UNIAN also stated that Poroshenko said Ukraine has taken significant steps towards implementing new legislation and regulations to match EU standards within the first year of signing the Association Agreement.
“We continue to work on implementation of a number of important priorities for systematic reforms: constitutional reform; public administration reform and anti-corruption; judicial reform; law enforcement reform; decentralisation; reform-related business issues,” said the president.
Poroshenko also thanked the European Union member states for their economical and political support, specifically naming the 28-nation-bloc’s unprecedented macro-financial aid of 3.4 billion euros as well as 139 million euros in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian citizens who have been internally displaced due to the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, UNIAN reported.
“This assistance is the source of energy for European-oriented changes, which have been happening in Ukraine. We look forward to the continuation and expansion of cooperation in the framework of EU programs,” said Poroshenko.
Ukraine has been at loggerheads with Russia since Moscow annexed Crimea and allegedly gave military as well as political support to the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
This in turn has drawn Kiev closer to the European Union, as the EU continues to blame Russia for its alleged presence in eastern Ukraine.
On June 22, EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg and decided to extend economic sanctions against Russia for a further six months.
Following the meeting, a statement released said that the decision was taken without debate due to “Russia’s destabilising role in eastern Ukraine.”
Russia has repeatedly denied accusations of sending forces to help the rebels in eastern Ukraine. However, it has admitted that there are Russian nationals fighting in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions alongside the separatists.