Spain supports Ukraine's EU entry, foreign minister says

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FILE PHOTO: NATO foreign ministers meeting, in Berlin

By Belén Carreño

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain supports Ukraine's ambition to join the European Union and the idea of a new European political entity that could, for the time-being, accommodate Ukraine as a fellow-minded democracy, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told Reuters on Friday.

The European Commission will issue a report in June on whether to accept Ukraine's application to become a candidate for EU membership, which is likely to be a drawn-out process that is already causing dissent within the bloc.

Invaded by its neighbour Russia, Ukraine seeks a fast-track admission, to which countries such as the Netherlands and Croatia have objected.

Albares said Spain would support the admission of Ukraine unless the June report advises against it.

"If the European Commission's report is favourable, Spain will support Ukraine's aspirations to become a candidate, and from there the heads of state and government will meet to discuss the ways" for it to happen, he told Reuters by telephone from the Council of Europe ministerial meeting in Turin.

He also welcomed a recent proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron to create a new type of political European community that would allow countries outside the bloc, including Ukraine and Britain, to join.

"Europe has to define itself in the face of future challenges and future enlargement if it happens. The idea (Macron's) is within this framework of reflection, and Spain welcomes whatever advances the process of European integration," Albares said.

(Reporting by Belén Carreño, editing by Andrei Khalip and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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