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Ukraine govt to review work towards association agreement with EU

September 18, 2013, 5:45 UTC+3

The state has to adapt its legislation to more than 200 guidelines and about 150 bylaws of the European Union

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Leonid Kozhara, Photo ITAR-TASS / Sergey Karpov

Leonid Kozhara, Photo ITAR-TASS / Sergey Karpov

KIEV, September 18 (Itar-Tass) - The Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, where the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and EU is seen as a key event, is only slightly more than two months away. At a government session on Wednesday, the Ukrainian government will look into how the country prepares for that.

Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara will make a report to the Cabinet of Ministers at a session that EU Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Tombinski will attend.

The Ukrainian leadership has repeatedly mentioned the signing of the agreement as its key foreign policy task in 2013. Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov has marked that the country consciously seeks “radical economic, legal and social changes, pursuing the aim of the country’s future development”.

At the same time, the country is facing “the most large-scale and difficult work in its history,” he said, especially as concerns the setting up of a comprehensive zone of free trade with the European Union and the transition of the Ukrainian economy “to the European track”. The state has to adapt its legislation to more than 200 guidelines and about 150 bylaws of the European Union.

The public got an opportunity to get acquainted with the draft document only more than a month ago, when its Ukrainian version was posted on the web site of the government in mid-August. Meanwhile, before the signing of the agreement Kiev has to pass several laws.

The parliament has become visibly more active in that direction after the summer recess. It has already passed a decision on holding repeat parliamentary elections in December in five “problem” majority constituencies. It will also make changes to the Penal Execution Code. Speaker Vladimir Rybak has pledged that the parliamentarians will cope with that task before November.

However, the course towards closer rapprochement with the European Union is not unequivocally supported by the Ukrainian society and politicians, even within the ruling Party of Regions. This is proved by the results of a vote on “European integration” bills, when a group of more than 40 members of the Party of Regions refused to support them.

Ukrainian president’s representative in the parliament Yuri Miroshnichenko, from the Party of Regions, has confirmed that some parliamentarians are against the signing of the association agreement. According to him, this is not a sensation as the Party of Regions is a big faction which has representatives from different regions who reflect positions of their voters. Representatives from the Communist Party are traditionally against the European vector. According to Communist Party deputy Igor Alekseyev, Kiev will face a full de-industrialization in case it associates with the countries of the euro zone. “Opening unilaterally our customs borders to a flow of European goods means only one thing today - a swift and complete halt of Ukrainian industry, especially in the machine building and science-intensive sectors,” he said.

Communists have already submitted to the Central Election Commission documents for the registration of an initiative group for holding a national referendum on Ukraine’s joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Kiev believes that the creation of a zone of free trade with the EU should not impede trade with other partners. According to the secretary of the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defence, Andrei Klyuyev, the country intends “to deepen integration processes with Russia, countries of the Eurasian community and other world leaders and new centers of economic development”.

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