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Georgia, Moldova follow Ukraine in applying to join EU

Following Ukraine’s plea to join the European Union as it battles Russia’s invasion, Georgia and Moldova on Thursday submitted their own applications to join the bloc.

The two countries are highly unlikely to join the union any time soon but their applications reflected their deep alarm at Moscow’s war on Ukraine and a desire to move closer politically to the EU.

“The time is now: Moldova officially signs the application for membership to join the European Union,” said Maia Sandu, president of Moldova, which borders Ukraine and EU member Romania. “Citizens are prepared to work hard towards a stable and prosperous future in the EU and the family of European states.”

Meanwhile in Georgia, which was invaded by Russia in 2008, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced via his official website that his country was also formally applying to become an EU member. “Today is a historic day for Georgia. I am signing the application for EU membership on behalf of the country,” wrote Garibashvili.

The road to joining the EU is generally long and arduous, involving years of social, legal and economic reforms. To even get the status of a membership candidate, a country must get the green light from all the EU’s member governments.

An additional obstacle for Moldova and Georgia is that both countries have Russian-backed breakaway regions within their territory.

On Monday, following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s heartfelt plea to the European Parliament to press for Ukraine’s membership of the EU, European Council President Charles Michel said enlargement is “a difficult subject,” upon which member countries hold “different opinions.”

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell and European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi traveled this week to Moldova and Romania, which are both facing an influx of refugees fleeing Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

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