European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went to Kyiv on Saturday for a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and said they would discuss Ukraine’s reconstruction and progress towards European Union membership.
“With President Zelenskyy I will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of the progress made by Ukraine on its European path,” she said in a post on Twitter.
The discussions “will feed into our assessment” of Ukraine’s readiness to be considered a candidate country to begin lengthy negotiations, including needed reforms, she told a group of journalists travelling with her.
This was her second trip to Kyiv since the Russian “special military operation” in late February.
Her last one, on April 8, was to hand Zelenskyy a questionnaire his officials needed to fill out to provide details that would help inform the European Commission’s opinion it has to give to the European Council, representing the EU’s 27 member states.
Zelenskyy told a conference in Denmark on Friday that grand statements that Ukraine was part of the European family should be followed up with actions.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, will give its opinion on Ukraine’s candidacy request on June 17, with the bloc’s heads of state expected to discuss it at a summit a week later. Even if approved, the process to become a full member takes several years and can be vetoed by any member state.
Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, the region’s governor said on Saturday.
“The information about the blockade of the Azot plant is a lie,” Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region partially controlled by pro-Russian forces, said on Telegram.
Ukraine has said some 800 people were hiding in several bomb shelters underneath the Azot plant, including about 200 employees and 600 residents.
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
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