The Dutch Prime Minister reiterated his country’s commitment to helping Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s attempts to completely inglobate its neighbour. Arriving at Versailles for an emergency meeting of the European Council, Mark Rutte dismissed speculation about Brussels fast-tracking Kyiv’s accession request into the European Union. President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the European Parliament last week urging member states to support his country, and his attempt to secure a seat for Ukraine in the bloc.
Mr Rutte told the press: “First of all, it was the Netherlands who was one of the first countries coming out with military support.
“One of the first countries pleading for a strong sanction package.
“Let there be no doubt about the fact the Netherlands stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.
“But there is no such thing as fast-tracking of accession. It doesn’t exist.”
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He added: “What’s important is that Ukraine has asked to be member of the EU (…) there is no fast track procedure to become member of the EU.”
Brussels leader will say “Ukraine belongs to our European family”, a draft declaration showed, while the leaders are also expected to sign off on a new sanctions package that spares Russian fossil fuels.
The declaration will add: “We will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership (with Ukraine)”
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins earlier said Ukraine should be granted EU candidacy, though he acknowledged this only marked the “beginning of a long and difficult road”.
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Addressing the European Parliament last week, President Zelensky said: “The European Union is going to be stronger with us. That’s for sure.
“Without you, Ukraine is going to be lonely, lonesome. We have proven our strength.
“We have proven that at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you are. So do prove that you are with us.”
He added: “Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans.
“And then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine.”