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Schulz: Ukraine’s membership in Eurasian Economic Union to hinder free trade with EU

February 18, 2014, 0:55 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, February 18, 0:30 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, which is expected to take place in January 2015, will be an obstacle in the way of setting up a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU, believes European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

The EU Association agreement would not annul the neighbourly relations and good cooperation with Russia, CIS and the Customs Union as a whole, Schulz said in an interview with the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN. However, Ukraine’s joining the Eurasian Economic Union would render free trade with the EU problematic for a simple reason of incompatible regulations.

Even so, he added, all sovereign states in any case had a right to make their own foreign policy decisions free of external pressure. Association and free trade zone that the Ukrainian government viewed as its strategic goals for years before suddenly refusing to sign the deal a week before the summit in Vilnius remains a strong mechanism of transformation that will help build up welfare and stability in Ukraine, Schulz believes.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities are determined to partake the operations of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the nascent Eurasian Economic Union. As former Ukrainian prime minister Nikolai Azarov has recently put it, “we are working as an observer in the Eurasian Economic Commission. It is a very useful experience for Ukraine as observer status helps perceive an organization’s problems, know them and be ready to resolve them”.

He added the Eurasian Economic Union was an important market for Ukraine, so the country needed a dialogue with the organization to be informed about pending legal documents and be ready for “a prompt reaction amid changing circumstances”.

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