YALTA, September 15 (Itar-Tass) — The European Union can hardly offer anything but stagnation and state debt to Ukraine, VTB Bank CEO Andrei Kostin said.
“A part of the European problem is that the European Union enlarged very rapidly without deeper integration. As a result, united Europe is on the verge of disintegration today,” Kostin said at the 9th annual meeting “Yalta European Strategy” on Saturday, September 15.
“Is the EU really ready to admit new members if it can barely manage the existing ones such as Greece, Portugal and Spain?” he asked. “What can it offer to Ukraine? A financial crisis, the state debt and stagnation?”
Kostin stressed the need to “be guided by economic not political considerations”.
He called for “a union between Russia and Ukraine in a new form” within the Customs Union”.
“Our analysis shows that Ukraine can seriously benefit from joining the Customs Union due to the nature of the economy and the level of our integration that existed and continues to exist after the disintegration of the Soviet Union,” Kostin said.
In his opinion, Russia “should show greater flexibility on the gas issue and in solving trade conflicts” and generally make “the Customs Union more attractive for Ukraine”.
“Both countries will benefit if Ukraine turns to the East,” he added.
Ukraine may join the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus as its full member, Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Andrei Klyuyev said earlier.
“I want to confirm, one more time our intention to develop cooperation with the Customs Union in the ‘3+1’ format. This format does not rule out full membership of our state in this association,” Klyuyev said.
Ukraine and the Customs Union countries are engaged in a normal and respectful dialogue, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said.
“There is no conflict between us. We are engaged in dialogue,” he said.
The president said, “Ukraine is a WTO member, while Russia and Kazakhstan are in the process of accession to this international organisation. As soon as they enter the WTO and the Customs Union has its rules in place and working, we will look at its effectiveness.”
“If the Customs Union meets [our] national interests, we will decide then,” he added.
Yanukovich stressed, “We want to look into the future consciously and intelligently”. He proposed “3+1” participation in Customs Union for Ukraine.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said earlier that Ukraine's cannot be a member of the Customs Union and a free trade zone with the European Union at the same time.
It is impossible to join the Customs Union and at the same time have all-embracing free trade zone with the EU, Barroso said after talks with Yanukovich last year.
At the same time, he did not rule out some instruments for cooperation between Ukraine and the Customs Union created by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.