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Ukraine has 10 days to make decisions on association with EU - Council

November 18, 2013, 23:58 UTC+3 143 ¶ ¶ BRUSSELS

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius said at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels

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BRUSSELS, November 18, 23:48 /ITAR-TASS/. Ten days remain for Ukraine and the European Union to take crucial decisions to sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius Summit, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius said at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

He reiterated to ITAR-TASS that the EU is willing to sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine in Vilnius. “Equally, we believe that Ukraine’s choice is unequivocal, and that it is ready to prove its willingness to sign the Agreement by taking the remaining steps. There is no place for plan B in EU thinking,” Linkevicius said.

The EU foreign ministers did not take a decision on signing the agreement, though.

The minister said Ukraine had recently made much progress and shown determined action and tangible progress in many areas, “but we are not there yet.” “It would be highly misfortunate to slip from the road just before the finish line,” Linkevicius added.

He believes that the Ukrainian president should show leadership in order to achieve sufficient progress and deliver tangible results, and the EU, in turn, should demonstrate that it is ready to sign the agreement if key decisions are taken in Ukraine.

“We still have ten days but time is melting away. We know what we want to achieve at the Vilnius Summit and Ukraine knows what it must do for this to become true. I hope that Ukraine will use this week productively and that the necessary laws will be adopted without further delays,” Linkevicius said.

Speaking about former Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko, he said the EU considered it as a case of selective justice in Ukraine. The EU demands its elimination as part of judicial reform in the country.

The EU monitoring commission co-chaired by Aleksander Kwasniewski, former President of the Republic of Poland, and Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, said last week that that Ukraine had failed to comply with the EU requirements for signing the association agreement and it will continue working in Ukraine until the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28-29 to press the Ukrainian leadership into releasing Timoshenko.

In their report to the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, the other co-chair of the monitoring mission to Ukraine, said, however, that “it would be premature to conclude that compliance with the conditions set has been met or alternatively that such compliance still cannot be achieved. In our considered opinion the issues outstanding can be resolved by one means or another. What is critical is not the capacity to deliver a solution but rather the political will to do so. What is indispensable in the coming week is to find that political will, to act and to deliver,” they said.

“After several months of reflection and discussion of different options, the mission suggested the partial pardoning of Mrs Yulia Timoshenko as the most viable way to resolve the remaining problem of selective justice. This option would represent the minimum requirement capable of yielding the maximum effect, would depend solely on the authority and goodwill of the President of Ukraine and would not involve delegating responsibility to other institutions and would not necessitate changing any existing legislation,” they said.

Cox and Kwasniewski stressed that “time is running out to achieve compliance with the conditions required for the signature of the Association Agreement on 29 November 2013.” Kwasniewski said that the signing of the agreement would be postponed indefinitely if no consensus was reached at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.

He said that elections to the European Parliament were due in 2014, to be followed by the election of a new European Commission, with presidential elections in Ukraine slated for 2015. “At least two years will be lost,” Kwasniewski said.

He does not rule out that the situation may change two years from now and may even be worse than the current one.

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