BRUSSELS, October 18 (Itar-Tass) —— The EU Council has officially notified Ukraine that the visit of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, scheduled for October 20, had been postponed, a source in the European institutions reported here on Tuesday.
“This decision reflects concern of the EU countries over the judgement passed recently on ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko,” the source said.
According to his information, EU suggested to Ukraine “that the visit should be postponed to a later date, when conditions for the promotion of bilateral relations become more favourable.”
At the same time, he said that the EU-Ukraine summit would be held in December, “as was initially planned.” An agreement on associated membership and on the creation of a free trade zone, which is of key importance for the cooperation of Brussels and Kiev, is expected to be signed at the December summit.
During his planned visit to Brussels Yanukovich was to have meetings with Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and EU President Herman Van Rompuy, and to discuss with them final preparations for the EU-Ukraine summit, due to be held later this year.
Previously Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, warned that although the situation around the verdict to Timoshenko would not block the signing of the agreement on associated membership and a free trade zone, it might hamper its putting into effect.
According to Ms. Ashton, the process of the completion of coordination of the agreement and of its signing at the EU Ukraine summit will go on fully in accordance with the schedule, but the technical stage will be followed by the political stage, including the approval of the European Parliament. In her opinion, problems may emerge on that very stage.
Sources in the European institutions believe that EU will agree to the signing of the agreement on associated membership and a free trade zone with Ukraine at the end of the year, because the document will be important “for stimulating the European orientation of Kiev.”
The European Commission attaches special importance to the document for fear that Ukraine may prefer the joining of the Customs Union, made up of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, to a free trade zone with EU.
At the same time, the process of ratification of the document by national parliaments of the EU member countries and its approval by the European Parliament will, most probably, not be completed until Ukraine removes the EU concern connected with human rights, including the Timoshenko case, which will not permit to put the document into effect in the near future.