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LYMEC applauds Council’s conclusions on Ukraine and enlargement

On Thursday, 14 December 2023, EU member states reached a landmark political agreement. They agreed to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova and boost financial support for Ukraine. As part of their hours-long negotiations, they also decided to grant Georgia - another country facing a barrage of Russian disinformation efforts - candidate status whilst giving a greenlight to Bosnia and Herzegovina, who, last year, was promoted to an EU candidate nation, to open accession negotiations as soon as the remaining accession criteria have been met.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the decision, adding that: "History is made by those who don't get tired of fighting for freedom." The leaders of Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina also issued positive statements.

Taken together, these decisions are momentous for several reasons. Firstly, they underscore how, despite deep political divisions within Europe and even rising fatigue over Ukraine, EU leaders still recognise the importance of maintaining their support for Ukraine. Secondly, in contrast to recent developments from the United States, where Congress is currently engaged in a budgetary showdown over Ukraine funding, the EU has proven itself capable of rallying behind a shared vision which continues to recognise Ukraine's noble resistance efforts and its fight for freedom. Lastly, it also marks a notable departure from previous practice, with reports showing that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - who is known to have pro-Kremlin ties and had voiced strong opposition to Ukraine's bid ahead of the summit - stepped out of the room so that the remaining 26 EU leaders could achieve unanimity. 

Reacting to the news, LYMEC President Dan-Aria Sucuri commented: "This is a welcome decision from EU leaders and one that all Europeans should cherish. Ukraine's future lies in the EU, and so does Moldova's, Bosnia's and Georgia's - and this decision recognises this basic fact."

Since its founding in 1976, LYMEC has been unwavering in its commitment to enlarging the union and spreading the values and freedoms that have defined it, namely, peace through prosperity and cooperation. As such, LYMEC is delighted that despite the political grandstanding of countries like Hungary, a decision could be reached - recognising the significant steps these four countries have taken to align themselves with the EU's membership criteria.

Whether through our Policy Debates on EU enlargement or our frequent Voices from Ukraine event forums, LYMEC will continue spotlighting these two issues, especially as we approach 2024. As part of this, LYMEC will continue to call on decision-makers to provide military aid support for Ukraine as well as the political backing it, Moldova and the Western Balkans all deserve so they can complete their EU accession journeys.

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