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EU to convince Moscow that association deal with Ukraine is not against Russia

February 03, 2014, 21:54 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
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BRUSSELS, February 03, (ITAR-TASS). The European Union intends to convince Russia at intergovernmental consultations on Ukraine that an association agreement between Brussels and Kiev would not go out of line with Russia’s interests, European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said.

Hansen stressed that the EU is ready to sign the association and free trade agreement with Ukraine. Kiev suspended work on the deal a few days prior to the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November 2013 at which it was supposed to sign it.

Commenting on Russia’s fears that the deal could result in losses for the Ukrainian and Russian economies, the spokeswoman recalled that Russia and the EU agreed at their January 28 summit in Brussels to hold intergovernmental consultations on the Eastern Partnership program - an EU project to develop ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The European Commission will use these consultations to explain how the program's agreements would affect the Russian economy, Hansen said, adding that Europe would try to convince its Russian partners that the deals serve the goal of rapprochement between all EU partners.

Kiev refused to sign the association agreement with the EU at the November summit in Vilnius, opting for closer ties with Russia instead. The move triggered mass anti-government rallies in Ukraine, which sometimes turned into riots.

Originally, the opposition demanded that the association agreement be signed with the EU, but after a rally was dispersed in downtown Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) early on November 30, protesters started demanding the resignation of the government and president.

Parliament’s decision to pass a set of laws toughening punishment for public order violations on January 16 triggered a second wave of demonstrations in Ukraine, with protesters seizing government buildings. Three protesters are believed to have been killed, and up to 200 policemen injured. The authorities later repealed the laws.

Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov resigned on January 28, and the Ukrainian authorities also decided to pardon participants of riots on condition that protesters vacate state and local power institutions they seized in Kiev and other regions within 15 days. Opposition leaders reacted defiantly and with skepticism to the amnesty law that came into force on February 2.

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