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Once in EU, Ukraine will have no chance to join Customs Union

September 23, 2013, 18:58 UTC+3
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: accession to the Customs Union will be practically closed for our Ukrainian colleagues if they sign the Association Agreement with the EU states
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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Ekaterina Shtukina

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Ekaterina Shtukina

MOSCOW, September 23 (Itar-Tass) - After integration into the European Union, Ukraine will have no chance to join the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

“There will be no chance to join the Customs Union after that,” Medvedev said at a meeting with the ranking members of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, on Monday, September 23.

He also said that “the special partnership regime” would no longer apply to Ukraine after its integration into the EU.

The prime minister noted that the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, to be signed at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius this November, would apply before the document was ratified.

Ukraine cannot combine its associated membership in the European Union with integration into the Customs Union Medvedev said earlier this month, recalling the Latin expression “aut Caesar aut nihil,” which means “all or nothing.”

“All this talk that one can be here and there at the same time is a ruse, a wish to fool the people that they can be a little bit here and a little bit there, getting dividends everywhere. It doesn’t work like this,” Medvedev said.

“If Ukraine has made its choice in favour of the European Union, we wish our Ukrainian friends the closest possible integration with the European Union. Let them earn money for their national budget from that participation, but we have doubts that this will bring them big benefits. But if they have made such a choice, it’s their decision, and let the people of Ukraine assess their actions,” the prime minister said.

“The situation is quite simple: accession to the Customs Union will be practically closed for our Ukrainian colleagues if they sign the Association Agreement with the EU states,” Medvedev said.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov also said Ukraine could not be in the European Union and the Customs Union at the same time.

“We think it will be impossible to create a common customs union with us on the terms that are put forth in this agreement [on association between Ukraine and the EU,” Shuvalov said after talks between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Ukrainian colleague Nikolai Azarov in late August.

Shuvalov said he saw no prospects for further discussion on Ukraine’s contemporaneous membership in the EU and the Customs Union. “I think that further negotiations on this issue will be pointless,” he said.

Customs Union countries are key trade partners for Ukraine. In 2012, trade turnover with them reached 63 billion U.S. dollars, making up 36 percent of Ukraine’s overall export.

Ukraine has no status in the Customs Union now as there is no status of observer in this organisation.

On September 18, the Ukrainian government approved the text of the Association Agreement with the EU. Sections dealing with economic cooperation make up the biggest part of the document. There are seven sections in the agreement, which contains 486 articles.

In additional to the general principles, the agreement has sections concerning political dialogue and reforms, political association, cooperation and convergence in the field of foreign policy and security, trade, economic and industrial cooperation, financial cooperation, the fight against fraud, as well as institutional, general and final provisions.

The principles of free market economy will provide the basis for relations between Ukraine and the EU. They will also cooperate in fighting money laundering and financial support for terrorism.

The Association Agreement was initialled in 2012. After a technical check-up, the sides are now translating it to Ukrainian and the languages of all EU member states. Once that is done, the document will have to be signed and ratified.

The agreement will “create totally new conditions for the development of Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said. “The free trade area with the EU takes into account the interests of all our manufacturers. Where interests were infringed upon, Ukraine conducted negotiations and acted persistently.”

The government will set up a high-level working group to draft proposals on how to minimise possible risks from the implementation of the agreement for the Ukrainian economy.

Kozhara admitted that “some problem issues” remained such as accelerated standardisation and adoption of regulations, but “this is a matter of implementation in the first years of the Agreement’s application.”

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