Taoiseach Micheal Martin was commenting in Brussels at what he described as a “very significant” and “historic” two-day meeting of the European Council when Ukraine will be formally granted candidate status for future EU membership.
The move comes as war continues to rage in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in February.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Martin also raised fears over the prospect of famines in parts of the world due to Russian blockades on Ukrainian grain leaving the country.
The council meeting is expected to see EU candidate status granted to both Ukraine and Moldova. Georgia’s bid to become a member state will also be acknowledged with the country formally designating as having a European perspective – a step below candidate status.
“This is a very significant European Council meeting,” said Mr Martin.
“It’s historic in the sense of the enlargement of the European Union and I’m particularly pleased as a long-standing advocate for Ukraine’s application to candidate status to become a member of the European Union.
“It’s very significant for Ukraine, very significant for Moldova and, indeed, Georgia, in terms of European perspective.
“We in Ireland know what the European Union means, being a member of the European Union. It’s the 50th anniversary of Ireland’s decision to join the European Union, probably the single most transformative decision and event that happened in modern Irish history.
“So, I always cannot comprehend how we could ever refuse accession to other member states, because we know that membership itself can be transformative.
“And I think today the European Union is sending a message of solidarity to the people of Ukraine that you belong to the European family, you belong to the European Union, and the decision will be taken today to facilitate your application and you will have candidate status to join the European Union along with Moldova and, over time, with Georgia.”