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Kiev pleased by Ukraine-EU summit results despite EU reservations

December 19, 2011, 19:37 UTC+3

“The only instance that can solve all questions is the court,” the minister said

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KIEV, December 19 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Sergei Levochkin said the results of the Ukraine-EU summit can be described as successful.

He noted the desire stated by the sides in the joint statement to sign a new agreement on Ukraine’s association with the European Union “as soon as possible”.

According to Levochkin, “this may happen in December or February. Everything depends on the bureaucratic machinery and on when it gets the text ready”.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Klyuyev echoed him by saying that the agreement may be initialled “within a month of a month and a half”.

Diplomatic sources said earlier that the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU has 1,800 pages, while previous agreements signed by the EU with other countries were no more than 40-50 pages.

The European Union is determined to sign an association agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said at an EU-Ukraine summit.

He expressed the hope that the talks would have a successful outcome.

Ukraine and the European Union are close to finishing the work on the text of the association agreement, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

“The 15th summit is of special importance for our state. Today we have come close to finishing the work on the text of the association agreement and to preparing it for signing and implementation,” the president said.

“This is a document that lays the foundation for political association and economic integration between Ukraine and the EU,” he said.

He believes that the association agreement will become a key tool for carrying out Ukraine’s integration policy.

“Our goals regarding integration with the EU are based on a clear choice made by the Ukrainian people and are enshrined in national legislation,” the president said.

The association agreement, which will also envisage a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU, was expected to be signed in December. Kiev believes that it has to pave the way for Ukraine’s admission to the EU. However the crisis in relations between Kiev and Brussels over the former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko trial put the matter in limbo. Moreover, some of the EU countries have made it clear that their national parliaments would not ratify this agreement unless Timoshenko is freed.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, warned that the entry into force of the agreement between the European Union and Ukraine on association and a free trade zone may be delayed by the Timoshenko case.

She said that the coordination and signing of the agreement would proceed in accordance with the schedule, but the technical stage would be followed by a political one, which includes the approval by the European Union, and this is where complications can arise.

EU ministers confirmed on the sidelines of the meeting that the document would be signed before the end of the year, but its ratification by the national parliaments of the EU member states and by the European Parliament was unlikely to be completed until Ukraine resolves EU human rights concerns, one of which is the Timoshenko case.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko denied politics behind the Timoshenko criminal case.

“It's very bad when opposition leaders are prosecuted, but this is different - this is a matter of government responsibility,” Grishchenko said at the PACE replying to questions from parliamentarians.

“The only instance that can solve all questions is the court,” the minister said.

Yanukovich earlier called for integration and further admission of his country to the European Union.

“Our main priority is integration into the European Union,” Yanukovich said.

“We are ready to sign an agreement on association this year. And we want this agreement to mention prospects for Ukraine's admission to the European Union so that it is not a hollow document,” he said.

Ukraine is seeking to sign an association agreement with the European Union, which will reflect prospects for its membership in this organisation, Yanukovich said.

According to Yanukovich, an agreement with the EU “should be meaningful and carry certain obligations, but partners in the European Union do not want to take our position into account”.

“We are not asking for money, but we have one condition: this document should reflect prospects for Ukraine's admission to the EU. If it's not there, it [the agreement] is empty,” the president said.

“There are states that are strongly against EU enlargement, and the impression is that we are begging like the poor relation, but they won't let us in,” he added.

“If we cannot sign the agreement today, let's do it tomorrow. Let's be patient. Let's see how reforms go in Ukraine. We are carrying them out for ourselves, not for Europe,” Yanukovich said.

Ukraine and the EU began negotiations on a new basic agreement in March 2007 and on the creation of a free trade zone in February 2008. In September 2008, Ukraine and the EU agreed to sign a new reinforced agreement on the principles of Ukraine's association, which would include the creation of a free trade zone.

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