Lithuanian leader hails start of Ukraine's EU accession talks as 'new page' in history

  • 2023-12-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

BRUSSELS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda hailed EU leaders' decision on Thursday to start membership talks with Ukraine as "a new page" in history.

"A new page, a historic page has been turned, and I am proud of the EU, which managed to find the strength and power to take this decision," Nauseda told Lithuanian journalists in Brussels on Thursday.

"And, of course, this is bad news for the Kremlin's master, who probably hoped that the decision would not be taken. We let him down," he added.

The president also said that the EU's unanimous decision is great news to Ukrainians who are fighting "a brutal and unequal war against an aggressor who is throwing all resources on the altar of war".

"For them, this is a huge boost to their soul and spirit to withstand this pressure and continue on the path of progress," he said. 

EU leaders agreed to open accession talks with Ukraine despite Budapest's opposition. 

The block also agreed to start membership talks with Moldova, grant candidate status to Georgia and open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina "once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved". The European Commission has been tasked with submitting a report by March with a view to taking such a decision.

According to diplomatic sources, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban agreed not to be present in the room when 26 other leaders backed the decision on Ukraine.

Before the talks can be launched, EU states must agree on a negotiating framework. The decision is tentatively expected to be taken in March but might face resistance from Hungary.

"This is a process. When I say that we have turned a new page, I mean that there will be many more pages. And each of them will have a very specific content," Nauseda said.

"But you have to agree that without opening this first page of the book, you cannot read the book. It means the process has started and it can only move upward, not backward," he added.