European leaders have agreed to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine, a symbolic win for the country amid its war with Russia.
In what it described as a (quote) "historic decision," the 27-member bloc also granted candidate status to neighboring Moldova while Georgia was told it would get the same once it has fulfilled more conditions.
"Let me stress that I am deeply convinced that our decision that we have taken today strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in the face of Russian aggression and it strengthens the European Union."
It could take Ukraine more than a decade from now to fully join the EU, but the latest decision is a symbolic step that signals the bloc's intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.
Russia's invasion prompted Ukraine to apply for the status, and the EU was unusually swift in approving it.
Nevertheless, the EU leaders did stress that there will be much homework to do going forward.
The latest move was endorsed by the Vatican, which expressed regret over the slow progress in reaching peace in the region.
Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin also addressed the global food crisis resulting from the Ukraine war, urging that grain exports not be used as a political weapon.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.