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Fate of Ukraine's Association Agreement with EU to be decided at EP summit in Lithuania

November 29, 2013, 5:00 UTC+3 VILNIUS
Despite the fact that Kiev had earlier already stated that it suspends the procedure for the signing of the Agreement, EU leaders do not lose hope to persuade Yanukovich into reconsidring the decision
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VILNIUS, November 29, 4:34 /ITAR-TASS/. The question of Ukraine's Agreement with the Europen Union (EU) on Association and Free Trade is expected to be finally decided at the current summit of the Eastern Partnership (EP) summit which is going on Friday in the capital of Lithuania which now presides over the EU Council.

Despite the fact that Kiev had earlier already stated that it suspends the procedure for the signing of the Agreement, EU leaders do not lose hope to persuade President Viktor Yanukovich into reconsidring the decision.

Lithuanian politicians, who dream about "going down in history" during Lithuania's presidency in the EU, are especially busy pressing for the possibility of changing Ukraine's decision "if only at the last moment". They are using the stick and carrot tactics. On the one hand, they point out that if Kiev rejects association with the EU and wouldh then want to return to the idea of Eurointegration, the issue will be postponed for long years. On the other hand, they hint at European money necessary for modernizing the Ukrainian economy.

"In the event the Agreement is signed, the EU will be readu to act as a mediator in Ukraine's getting assistance from financial institutions," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius stated.

Ukraine's renunciation of Association will not only prevent Vilnius from going down in the history of EU Eurointegrational projects but will also put in jeopardy the very existence of the Eastern Partnership programme.

The Programme was launched by the EU in 2009 for developing cooperation with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. However, from the very outset, the EP programme was a rather amorphous organization. The two previous summits did not become vivid political events and went off almost unnoticed. Entering the finishing straight of the long dialogue with Kiev on an Association Agreement gave the EP programme a new impetus which may prove futile.

If Kiev decides against entering association with the EU, there will remain only two active participants -- Georgia and Moldova --ouoftheEP prgrame's six members. On Friday they are to initial their association agreements with the EU. Armenia, which had earlier declared similar plans, in the end gave preference to joining the Customs Union, which is incompatible, as is believed in Brussels, with the free trade treaty.

Azerbaijan refrains from moving towards an associaion agreement and suggests that the EU sign a partnership agreement. Belarus, with the authorities of which Brussels is almost lacking a dialogue, participates in the Eastern Partnership programme more as an observer.

The Vilnius summit is being attended by representatives of 34 countries at the level of Heads of State and Government and Ministers, as well as by the EU leadership.

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