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Will The European Union Grant Ukraine Candidate Status?

A draft of the final declaration for this week's European Union summit proposes candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, a copy of the document seen by RFE/RL shows.

"The European Council has decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and to the Republic of Moldova," the document, dated June 21, says, adding Georgia will be granted the same status once Tbilisi meets a number of conditions.

"The future of these countries and their citizens lies within the European Union," it adds.

All 27 bloc members must approve such a move, which seems unlikely to encounter any resistance.

Within the European Union "there is not a single country that has problems" with the move, Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said before a meeting EU foreign ministers on June 21. Several of his colleagues expressed similar sentiments at the gathering.

The unprecedented move by the European body comes as Kyiv fights a devastating war against Russia, which launched an unprovoked invasion of its neighbor on February 24 that has killed tens of thousands of people and caused huge material destruction.

EU leaders will meet on June 23-24 in Brussels, where they also will aim to maintain pressure on Russia by committing to further work on sanctions, including a possible move to make gold among the assets that may be targeted by any future measures.

"Work will continue on sanctions, including to strengthen implementation and prevent circumvention," the document says, adding that the bloc remains "strongly committed" to providing further military support for Ukraine and to "swiftly work" on increasing such support.

The document also reiterates previous EU calls for the rights of Belarusians to have "new, free and fair elections" and calls on the country's authorities "to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law, to end repressions and to release political prisoners."

Belarusian authorities have brutally suppressed dissent in any form since a disputed presidential election in August 2020 handed authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth term.

Rights activists and opposition politicians say the poll was rigged to extend Lukashenka's rule. Thousands have been detained during countrywide protests and there have been credible reports of torture and ill treatment by security forces. Several people have died during the crackdown.

Many of Belarus's opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, while Lukashenka has refused to negotiate with the opposition.

By RFE/RL

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