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Putin says Ukraine cannot be member of EU, Customs Union simultaneously

October 25, 2013, 19:29 UTC+3
Customs Union documents do not have practically any clauses coinciding with the European demands
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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexey Nikolski

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexey Nikolski

MINSK, October 25 (Itar-Tass) - Ukraine cannot have an associated membership of the EU and be a member of the Eurasian Customs Union at the same time, President Vladimir Putin said here Friday.

“The reference to a possibility of membership in other associations the text of the agreement on the association with the EU contains doesn’t change anything as regards the impossibility for Ukraine to take part in the Customs Union /after it forms an association with the EU - Itar-Tass/,” Putin said.

A number of experts have said in the past few months that the statute on Ukraine’s association with the EU does envision its membership of the Customs Union. “It’s true that the text contains a provision of this sort but the problem is it says in plain terms all the future integration associations Ukraine might establish should fully comply with the agreement between Ukraine and the EU,” Putin said.

He said along with it that the Customs Union documents do not have practically any clauses coinciding with the European demands. “On the contrary, the things that Ukraine and the European Commission are making agreement on fully mismatch these provisions.”

“That’s why there’s absolutely no contradiction with what I said earlier,” Putin said.

He told a news conference earlier on the same day that Ukraine’s participation in the Customs Union would be impossible if it received an associated membership of the EU.

Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov came up with a comment on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s proposal to set up a coordination council that would embrace Ukraine, the EU and the Customs Union for the purposes of tapping compromise solutions in the sphere of trade.

“No one denies possible dialogue but how would you coordinate the collaborative efforts that would simply be impossible?” Peskov said. “That’s the biggest question. Collaboration between Ukraine and the Customs Union in whatever form will become impossible and Vladimir Putin spoke about it yesterday.”

“In essence, the Ukraine-EU agreement envisions the setting-up of supranational agencies,” he said.

“This means a loss of economic sovereignty by Ukraine and that’s why after these supranational bodies are created and get down to business, Russia will have to discuss some or other problems of economy with Brussels rather than with Kiev,” Peskov said.

This is the main paradox of the situation, he said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said earlier Friday that, from his standpoint, the upcoming Ukraine-EU association agreement is lucrative for the two contracting parties and for everyone else “on the strategic plane”.

“Any talking about the importance of a choice between the deepening of collaboration either with other CIS countries or with Europe is fundamentally out of place,” Yanukovich said.

He indicated that the setting up of a free trade zone with the EU and a parallel expansion of ties with the Customs Union will facilitate acceleration of economic relations in Eurasia.

“The signing of this agreement with the EU creates more prerequisites for trade and investment cooperation between our countries,” Yanukovich said. “More specifically, our joint ventures co-owned by CIS countries could export products to the EU under the free trade zone regulations.”

He especially stressed the absence of any possible aftereffects of the relationship between Kiev and Brussels for Ukraine’s economic cooperation with the CIS.

“We strongly object to any artificial barriers in trade,” Yanukovich said. “What has happened in trade relations between the CIS countries and especially among the Customs Union countries requires a very serious scrutiny.”

“I think we’ll find the compromise solutions and will open up new opportunities for bringing our commodities to the markets we share,” he said.

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