As one Member State continues its arguments today to leave the EU, others are queuing up to make friends with the bloc.
Yesterday, March 20, a mini-summit for EU-Ukraine was held in Brussels with the current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.
Poroshenko is campaigning to keep his seat as President in the elections to be held on 31 March and was keen to stress his pro-EU credentials by lobbying for improved relations between Ukraine and the EU. He outlined the vision of key priorities for the development of the Ukrainian state and its relations with the European Union with a view to achieving criteria for EU membership.
The leaders welcomed significant progress in deepening bilateral relations since 2014, including the conclusion and implementation of the Association Agreement, the DCFTA and introduction of a visa-free regime.
EU leaders noted the positive commitment of Ukraine towards rapprochement with the EU, and stressed the importance of ensuring free and fair presidential elections later this month.
The leaders agreed to coordinate efforts to counter third party interference in electoral processes both in Ukraine and in the European Union, and to strengthen cyber security and resistance to misinformation.
Reminding leaders of the 5th anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, Poroshenko reaffirmed his commitment to terminate occupation of the peninsula and to seek its return to Ukrainian sovereignty. He thanked the EU for its clear position regarding the illegal annexation of Crimea and the maintenance of sanctions against Russia for its brutal violation of international law.
He also called on the European Union to increase pressure and sanctions on the Russian Federation to immediately release all Ukrainian sailors and other hostages. He welcomed the decision of the EU to introduce a new “Azov package” of EU sanctions for violating the freedom of navigation and stealth occupation by Russia of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. He also urged them to help secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia.
Finally the summit discussed ways to strengthen Ukraine’s energy security in cooperation with the European Union, particularly by ensuring gas transit and developing the EU-Ukraine energy bridge. Poroshenko called on the EU leaders to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which poses a threat to the energy security of the entire European continent.