Taoiseach voices support for accelerated entry of Ukraine into the European Union

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Taoiseach Voices Support For Accelerated Entry Of Ukraine Into The European Union Taoiseach Voices Support For Accelerated Entry Of Ukraine Into The European Union
Mr Martin said the meeting was also briefed on channels of communication which have been kept open with the Russian leadership. Photo: PA Images
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PA reporter

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he voiced strong support to accelerate Ukraine’s accession to the EU at a meeting of the European Council in Versailles.

“This was a good two-day meeting, there was good unity of purpose last evening in terms of the discussion on Ukraine and in particular Ukraine’s application to join the European Union,” Mr Martin said.

“I spoke strongly in favour of the European Union facilitating Ukraine’s pathway to membership.

“In my view the enlargement process has been too slow over the last decade in respect of countries in the neighbourhood of the European Union.

“Geopolitically I think it’s important, the world is polarising between authoritarian states and dictators and democracies that cherish basic values in terms of freedom of speech and democracy itself.

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“And I think one of the most effective ways for the European Union to protect those values is to ensure a more accelerated enlargement process than what has been the case to date.

“What came across very strongly last evening from those on the border of Ukraine was that they felt this message had to go out to those fighting in Ukraine that president Zelenskiy is saying that for those who are fighting now believe that they’re fighting for their children’s future, and they want that future to be in a democratic Europe, and I thought it was a very emotionally compelling presentation by quite a number of states, the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary and others.”

'Suffering and death is increasing'

Mr Martin said they were also briefed on channels of communication which have been kept open with the Russian leadership.

“There’s no great sign yet of any major prospects of an end to the war but clearly the human toll of suffering and death is increasing, and it is very, very clear that this war is modelled on previous patterns of military activity by Russia which is to bomb civilian targets,” he said.

“And also the migration is increasing exponentially, we’re getting updates from countries like Poland and Hungary in particular in terms of the increase in the numbers arriving to those countries … a very serious and grave situation.”

Mr Martin said neighbouring countries are very concerned about where Russian leader Vladimir Putin might go next.

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“They don’t believe that he is going to stop at Ukraine, hence their sense and indeed the European Union’s sense that the most robust response has to be delivered by the European Union in the form of very, very strong economic sanctions and again wider possible sanctions were discussed last evening, and there will be a further meeting at the end of March which will be a formal council where one could see perhaps firmer measures firmed up by then.

“And also at that meeting, the commission has been asked to come back to us in terms of some proposals around the energy market, there will be a more deeper analysis done by the commission by the May meeting in terms of the market mechanism in terms of energy.”

He said there was also a lot of concern around fuel and the rising dependency on Russian gas and oil, with strategies around how that dependency can be reduced.

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