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KIEV, February 03, (IITAR-TASS). Ukrainian officials will discuss European financial aid to the country with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, during her upcoming visit to Kiev, acting Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said on Monday, February 3.
“We will discuss financial assistance as well,” he said, adding that these issues had been discussed many times with the United States and the European Union but led to no concrete offers.
On Sunday, February 2, Arseny Yatsenyuk, head of the opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party’s faction in the national parliament, said that the EU was prepared to provide a 15 billion U.S. dollar loan to Ukraine.
“I heard Mr. Yatsenyuk’s statement, but I cannot comment on it because this issue was not discussed with me. We expect Catherine Ashton to come to Ukraine shortly, and she may speak about this. But I want to say that over the years of negotiations with the EU on the Association Agreement the European Union did not clearly state what kind of assistance could be provided to Ukraine during the implementation of the Agreement,” Kozhara said.
He also said that a Ukraine-EU roadmap would soon be discussed in Brussels. “We hope that the Ukrainian delegation will discuss the roadmap with EU officials in the Belgian capital in the near future,” he said.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the possible signing of the Association Agreement would not open up new channels of financial assistance to Ukraine.
He said it was a mistake to think that the EU should pay anything to a country that enters into an agreement with it and stressed that the biggest offer to Ukraine was the agreement itself, which would give it access to the EU market, the largest market in the world.
Barroso said the EU was prepared to provide macroeconomic aid to Ukraine in the amount of 610 million euros, provided Kiev came to agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
The EU is the largest donor of Ukraine and has provided 3.3 billion euros’ worth of grants and 10.5 billion euros’ worth of loans since the country proclaimed independence in the 1990s.
European aid to Ukraine averages 150 million euros a year, Barroso said.
Barroso said Ukraine was facing “very huge challenges” and the EU and its international partners were discussing what more could be done to help, provided Kiev committed itself to reforming its economy.
The EU is seeking an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine that goes beyond mere bilateral cooperation, encompassing gradual progress towards political association and economic integration.
Ukraine is a priority partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998 provides a comprehensive framework for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in all key areas of reform.
A new Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), was negotiated in 2007-2011 and initialled in 2012. On December 10, 2012, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted the Council Conclusions on Ukraine . These affirmed the EU’s commitment to signing the Agreement (including the DCFTA) as soon as Ukraine takes determined action and makes tangible progress towards achieving the benchmarks set out in the Conclusions.
On November 21, 2013, the Ukrainian governmentmade the decision to suspend preparations for signing the Association Agreement. The EU takes note of the unprecedented public support in Ukraine for political association and economic integration with the EU and remains ready to sign the Association Agreement on the basis of determined action and tangible progress on the EU’s benchmarks.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule said in December 2013 that the EU and Ukraine would work out a roadmap for signing the Association and Free Trade Area Agreement.
The talks will cover three key areas: creating favourable conditions for Ukraine to obtain maximum anti-crisis aid from the International Monetary Fund; creating a bilateral mechanism for consultations to solve problems associated with the signing of the Association Agreement; and determining the real cost of association.
The commissioner stressed that the figures of aid needed by Ukraine that had been mentioned were overly speculative and dismissed Ukraine’s claims for compensation by saying that these figures were neither based on facts nor substantiated.
He said no concrete amounts of compensation to Ukraine had been discussed at the meeting. Instead the sides were trying to structure the systemic dialogue so as to understand how the EU could support the process of integration and association.
At the same time, he promised that European support would become bigger and bigger as integration proceeded further.
Fule urged Ukraine to work only with the IMF in order to overcome the current financial crisis as only the IMF could provide transparent and optimal forms of anti-crisis aid.
He said the EU intended to consider bringing possible aid from the IMF to its maximum but declined to name concrete figures.
“The European Union remains ready to sign the Association Agreement, including DCFTA, as soon as Ukraine is ready and proves its commitment by deeds. Let me make it clear: the Association Agreement is not an offer to the current president or to the current government. Let me recall that we have started the negotiations years ago. Let me stress what the Association Agreement is all about: it is an offer to Ukraine, to Ukrainian people and as such it is on the table. There is a shared ownership of this agreement, so the message that the door is open, should reach not only President’s office and Prime Minister’s cabinet,” Fule said.
He welcomed the European aspirations of the Ukrainian nation and expressed firmly belief that “the Association Agreement, including DCFTA, will be the first substantial step towards fulfilling these aspirations. Respect for our common values and implementation of the Association Agreement will define the future progressive developments in our relationship.”
Fule reiterated that “Europe remains fully engaged and is committed to facilitate finding solutions to Ukraine’s acute political crisis, based on the firm conviction that moving rapidly towards signature of the Association Agreement would constitute a key step for restoring confidence.