Moldova President Maia Sandu signed a document on Thursday to formally apply to become a member of the European Union. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Moldova President/website
March 4 (UPI) -- The former Soviet Union nations of Moldova and Georgia have applied to join the European Union, one week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The two countries made their formal applications as Ukraine, also a former Soviet Union nation, is seeking to accelerate its acceptance to the EU as it fends off a Russia invasion that was launched on Feb. 24.
Moldavian President Maia Sandu informed her citizenry in a speech of their country's application on Thursday, stating they "must act immediately when circumstances require and we see clearly the opportunity to ensure better life for future generations.
"Achieving this goal is our duty to the citizens," she said.
Becoming an EU member is a lengthy and complex process. Once a country meets conditions for membership that include having institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights and protections for minorities, among a slew of others, it must implement EU rules and regulations in all areas.
Sandu said her country was ready to put in the work.
"The Republic of Moldova must have a clear European path," she said. " Citizens have chosen this option. They see the future of our country in the European Union. We know the steps we need to take and we are ready to work."
Earlier Thursday, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced his country's application in an address.
"Georgia is a European state," he said. "Our country has always belonged to European culture and civilized space throughout its long history and continues to make a valuable contribution to its protections and development."
"Being European is nothing, but a unity of values and principles, which shape Europe. History of Georgia, which is a track record of fights and battles for freedom, is an evidence of these values being enshrined in the character of a Georgian person and therefore an undividable part of its identity," he said.
The signing of their applications come after Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky implored the EU in an impassioned speech on Tuesday to permit his country into its bloc of members.
"The European Union is going to be much stronger with us, that's for sure," he said. "Without you, Ukraine is going to be lonely, lonesome. We have proven our strengths. We have proven that, at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you are. So do prove that you are with us. Prove that you will not let us down."
Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia, on Thursday confirmed her country's support for Ukraine to become a member of the EU and said she would lobby other bloc leaders for support to grant the Eastern European country candidate status.
Since the invasion began, 249 Ukrainian citizens have been killed and 553 injured with more than a million others fleeing to neighboring countries, according to United Nations data.
"Ukraine is fighting for democracy, freedom and all of Europe," Kallas said said in a statement. "We have to send out a strong political message: Ukraine is a European country and is welcome in the European Union."
Five countries are currently listed as candidate nations on the EU's website with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo listed as potential candidates.