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Ukraine situation to be discussed at EU December 19-20 summit

December 16, 2013, 10:16 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
EU heads of state intend to consider the country’s situation during a debate on international issues
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BRUSSELS, December 16. /ITAR-TASS/. The situation around Ukraine will be discussed at the European Union summit on December 19-20, a diplomat of an East European country told Itar-Tass in the run-up to a meeting of the EU foreign ministers on the results of the outgoing year that is opening here on Monday. He confirmed that one of the Ukrainian opposition leaders, Vitaly Klitschko, would be invited to Brussels during the EU summit. He will not attend the official events, but is expected to be received ahead of the summit beginning by a number of European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The situation in Ukraine is not on the official agenda of the summit that will be devoted mainly to financial and economic issues, however, the EU heads of state also intend to consider the country’s situation during a debate on international issues. We should think over the measures that would make it possible to support with maximum efficiency the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people and promote the earliest signing of an association agreement,” the diplomat said.

On Sunday, EU leaders made a new attempt to exert pressure on the Ukrainian authorities. European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule made a statement that the EU was suspending consultations with Ukraine on the association agreement until Kiev gives a clear promise to sign it.

“The words and deeds of the president and government (of Ukraine) regarding the Association Agreement are further and further apart. Their arguments have no grounds in reality,” he wrote in his Twitter microblog.

“I told deputy PM (Sergei) Arbuzov in Brussels and after that further discussion is conditioned on clear commitment to sign [this agreement]. Work on hold, I had no answer,” the European commissioner said. He was immediately supported by the foreign ministers of the presiding in the EU Lithuania and Sweden that is one of the main lobbyists of the EU - Ukraine association process.

In the view of European analysts, these statements are aimed at depriving the Ukrainian president of his important political bargaining chip — that he currently is in negotiations with the EU on the fate of the association agreement. European experts say that thus the European commissioner and two ministers have taken “another clear-cut political step towards the opposition,” at the same time further lessening the chance of signing the association agreement with the current Ukrainian leadership.

However, commenting on Fule’s statement, the European diplomatic had previously told Itar-Tass that “the EU is ready to resume consultations with Ukraine on the prospects for the agreement signing on the condition that Kiev drops its demands of compensation for association with the EU,” which Brussels regards as unfounded. “Today, we have not heard from Ukraine a substantive position on the signing of an association agreement,” said the diplomat. According to him, “changing of the agreed upon text of the agreement is out of the question.” “Ukraine should accept the EU demands, and all the so-called compensations for the loss of trade relations with third countries are just a short-term and minor factor, compared to the strategic prospect of free trade with the European Union,” the source continued.

“In fact, we make a present to Ukraine and don’t understand the compensation claims,” he said.

The source noted, in particular, that Ukraine’s issue would be discussed on Monday at a meeting of the EU foreign ministers, as well as at their working lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

On December 12, the first round of talks between the government of Ukraine and the European Commission (EC) ended in Brussels. The sides agreed to negotiate the implementation of the roadmap for the signing of an agreement on association and a free trade zone in a bilateral regime, without the participation of Russia. Ukraine’s delegation was headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Arbuzov, and Fule acted on behalf of the EC.

According to him, the next rounds of negotiations would have the three main points. The first is to create favorable conditions to Kiev for getting “the maximum anti-crisis assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).” Second, it is necessary to establish a “bilateral consultation mechanism for solving problems arising in the process of signing an agreement on association and a free trade zone.” Third, it is necessary to determine the “real value of association.” Fule also emphasized that Ukraine should work only with the IMF in the efforts to overcome the financial crisis.

Arbuzov said that Kiev “has the political will to sign the association and free trade zone agreement with the EU.” “I can assure the Ukrainian people that the negotiations will continue. We don’t change the course towards Ukraine’s European integration. Europe for its part assured Ukraine that the process of European integration would of benefit to Ukraine,” he said. “We have to consider the issues of foreign trade, investment, commodity exchange, and many other subjects,” said the first deputy prime minister, noting that the bilateral talks on an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine would be completed as soon as possible.

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