Zelensky promises reforms as EU moves towards candidate status for Ukraine
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the EU for its decision to grant candidate status without delay
Zelensky promsied major reforms in Ukraine after the war
The path to EU membership is a long one contingent on the fulfillment of all EU criteria
"This is like going into the light from the darkness," the 44-year-old actor-turned-politician said, commenting on the historic vote in Brussels on Thursday that also saw the European Parliament call for the granting of candidate status to Moldova and Georgia.
Earlier in the day, Zelensky had expressed his hopes of setting out on the path to EU membership, describing the status as Ukraine's "choice of our future vision."
"Ukraine has made its own choice, ... a future closer to the European Union and soon we will be part of that family. We have sacrificed a lot for that," Zelensky had said on Thursday in a virtual address to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
As per European lawmakers' expectations, the 44-year-old also promised to concentrate efforts on "building a European state which will be part of the EU," stressing that Ukraine had already "prepared a lot of draft laws, a lot of reforms."
"Security in all public spaces -- starting from the borders of our country down to the very center," the Ukrainian president emphasized, promising change in a country notorious for corruption.
However, Zelensky warned that even if Ukraine wins the war against Russia, the threat from Moscow would remain: "We will understand very clearly that our neighbor is Russia, and that Russia, even if we finish the war and we win, in 10 or 20 years Russia may attack us again. I am not saying that this will happen, but there is a possibility," the 44-year-old said.
That being side, while candidate status would indeed set Ukraine on the path to eventual EU membership, European lawmakers warned that there is "no fast-track process" for membership in the bloc, and that the path to the same would remain "merit-based" and dependent on the fulfilment of all EU criteria.