Only Rome supports Ukraine candidate status, says Italy

Only Rome supports Ukraine candidate status, says Italy

Italian PM warned that many of the bloc's members oppose Kiev jumping the queue.

Italy's prime minister Mario Draghi revealed on Tuesday that only Rome supports giving Ukraine candidate status in the European Union, with all the other major EU members opposing it. He said that the bloc's officials would try to draft a fast-track proposal for how Kiev could join sometime in June.

At a press conference in Brussels, Draghi said that most major EU member countries are against giving Ukraine candidate status except Italy, as well as in response to a question from the Italian news agency ANSA. Candidate status is currently not predictable due to the opposition of these countries. Draghi said he could imagine that the European Commission would present a plan to fast track Ukraine's application for future candidate status at a meeting in June.

He said that most states wait for years to become candidates, let alone for EU membership, and that the EU has proposed various other arrangements to sweeten the pill, but none of them were acceptable to the government in Kiev.

Ukraine submitted its application for EU membership on February 28, four days after the outbreak of hostilities with Russia. The European Council acknowledged the European aspirations and the European choice of Ukraine in March and said they had swiftly passed Kiev's paperwork to the European Commission.

In early May, Russia announced that Ukraine's membership in the EU would be just as unacceptable for Moscow as Kiev joining NATO.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive is unprovoked and has denied that it plans to retake the two republics by force.