The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said Friday, in a video conference speech to the Ukrainian Parliament, that "there is a long road ahead" for the country to join the European Union (EU) and called on the deputies to be "united" in the face of the reforms demanded by Brussels.
"There is a long road ahead, but Europe will be on your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes during these dark days of war, until the moment when you cross the door that leads you into our European Union," Von der Leyen said in her speech, broadcast live by the European Commission's audiovisual services.
The President of the EU executive stressed that Ukraine's process towards the EU "will require hard work, determination and, above all, unity of purpose".
She stressed the need for Ukraine to implement anti-corruption laws, appoint a chief anti-corruption prosecutor and a director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, reform the Constitutional Court, implement the law limiting the influence of oligarchs and pass a rule on media independence.
"Nobody expects Ukraine to fill all the positions in your new institutions, while so many of your best and bravest (people) are fighting at the front. But Ukrainian democracy must continue to function," Von der Leyen said.
She insisted, in short, on the reforms that the European Commission had already asked Kiev to carry out when it accepted its candidacy for EU membership, along with that of Moldova, which was confirmed by European leaders at last week's summit.
Von der Leyen was speaking after a speech by Zelensky in the Verkhovna Rada (the official name of the Ukrainian parliament), in which the head of state, who has become a symbol of resistance to Russian aggression, expressed his conviction that his country "will not lose" the war or the opportunity to join the EU.
"It has not been easy, but we have achieved it", said the Ukrainian president on the admission of his country as a candidate to the EU club, a goal achieved in "record" time, and urged all members of the House to work "together" to undertake the reforms required to achieve EU membership in the future.
"We will not stop for a second to achieve victory, the victory of Ukraine" in this goal and in winning the war, Zelenski stressed, interrupted on several occasions by the applause of a packed Parliament.
At the beginning of the session, after an introduction by the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk, the deputies stood for a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the war launched by Russia in Ukraine on 24 February.
The session in the Rada was also attended by the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denys Shmygal, with members of his cabinet, as well as the EU ambassador in Kiev, Matti Maasikas, and other EU ambassadors in the Ukrainian capital.