KIEV, September 13 (Itar-Tass) — The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has received strict instructions from the leadership of the country to achieve at any cost the completion of negotiations on and initial the Association Agreement with the EU this year. “At one meeting Yanukovich warned Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko that if the agreement is not signed by the New Year then Grishchenko will be dismissed,” the Kommersant-Ukraine newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Under these circumstances, the Ukrainian diplomats are not limited to meetings and negotiations - the standard mechanisms of influence on the European partners. “The Foreign Ministry has started the play on the media field, agreeing with the European media about the placement of articles designed to prove to the European deputies and officials that Timoshenko is a criminal and indeed should incur criminal punishment for her activities as prime minister,” the newspaper said.
According to a EU press release, the EU is seeking an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine, going beyond mere bilateral cooperation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political cooperation. Ukraine is a priority partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998 and provides a comprehensive and ambitious framework for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, in all key areas of reform.
At the Paris Summit in September 2008 an agreement was reached to start negotiations on an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which is to be the successor agreement to the PCA. Several negotiating Rounds have since been organised, alternately in Brussels and Kiev. In November 2009, the Cooperation Council adopted the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda. This Agenda replaces the former Action Plan and will prepare for and facilitate the entry into force of the new Agreement. For 2011/12, a list of 90 priorities for action was jointly agreed by Ukraine and the EU. The Association Agreement will significantly deepen Ukraine’s political association and economic integration with the EU. As Ukraine became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in May 2008, negotiations on the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) could be launched, as an integral part of the Association Agreement. Negotiations for this DCFTA will continue in 2010/2011.