“The meeting in Minsk began in the multilateral format involving the presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the heads of the Eurasian economic commission and three European commissioners,” Lavrov said. “The discussion concerned the issues Russian President identified at his news conference on Tuesday. First and foremost, the economic component of the current situation in view of Ukraine’s intention to join the agreement of association and free trade zone with the EU.”
Lavrov said this step would create a number of risks for the interests of the countries that alongside Ukraine are affiliated with another free trade zone, that within the CIS. Lavrov explained that the conclusion of the aforesaid agreements between Kiev and the European Union contradicted Ukraine’s obligations within the CIS free trade zone.
“The discussion in Minsk was frank and meaningful,” Lavrov said. “We agreed that the just-started consultations on that score must be stepped up. The economics ministers and other economy-related agencies of the corresponding governments were instructed to coordinate approaches to the problems that can be resolved at the level of experts and to try to achieve some compromises.”
“The problems that the experts will fail to agree on will be taken to the level of the heads of state within foreseeable deadlines, but in any case, by September 12 this year,” he added.
“That’s too bad, because to my mind no artificial deadlines should be established in this respect. In Normandy, when the four leaders (of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine met) the issue on the agenda was the need to place the task of agreeing some forms of harmonization within the framework of Ukraine’s relations with the CIS countries and the Customs Union, on the one hand, and the with the EU, on the other,” Lavrov said. “Artificial dates will not help here, but nevertheless we displayed good will and agreed to try to complete all this by September 12.”
“We are aware that the Ukrainian leadership has already pronounced in public that the agreement with the EU will be ratified in September,” Lavrov said. “The Russian president has warned honestly and more than once that if the ratification happens without any agreements with us, members of the Customs Union, we shall act in full accordance with the rights stated in the free trade zone agreement to terminate certain preferences to our trading partners in Ukraine.”
“There will be no discrimination or sanctions, but there will be no preferences and privileges, either,” Lavrov said.
He found it rather strange that the determination to ratify the agreement with the EU in September was demonstrated at a time when the country’s parliament has been disbanded until the October 26 election.
“There is the intention to have the treaty ratified by the outgoing parliament. At the same time the main reason offered for disbanding it was that same parliament no longer reflected the will of the people. Won’t it be better to wait for the elections, when the people elect their representatives in full awareness of what has happened and what the people wish to see in the future?” Lavrov asked.
He remarked that regrettably the European Union, too “expressed the hope in public Ukraine will not delay the ratification despite the already announced early elections.