(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Kyiv, Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday his war-torn country deserved to start EU accession talks 'this year'.
'I believe that Ukraine deserves to start negotiations on EU membership this year,' Zelensky said on Thursday after talks with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.
He said further integration with the European bloc would inspire Ukrainians and give them 'motivation' to fight against Russian troops.
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In June last year EU leaders granted candidate status to Ukraine, just months after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to the pro-Western country. But the path to full membership remains long despite Kyiv's bullishness, and could take years.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned last May it could take 'decades' before Ukraine meets the criteria and achieves full membership.
Zelensky said that Ukrainian and EU officials had a 'mutual' understanding.
'Only together a strong Ukraine and a strong European Union can protect the life we value,' Zelensky added.
'And that our further integration must give energy and motivation to our people to fight against any obstacles and threats.'
The Ukrainian leader also said that global pressure on Russia must be increased.
'The enemy is at a specific stage when Russia's strategic defeat is already clear,' he said. 'But tactically, they still have the resources to attempt offensive actions.'
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