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EU does not see Ukraine, Georgia as potential candidates to join union — statement

The document deals with six countries, non-EU members, aligning themselves with the European Council’s decision to extend the sanctions against Crimea

BRUSSELS, August 13. /TASS/. The European Union considers neither Ukraine nor Georgia as potential candidates to join the union, the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said in a statement on Tuesday. The document deals with six countries, non-EU members, that support the European Council’s decision to extend the EU sanctions imposed on residents of Crimea, adopted as part of a policy of non-recognition of the peninsula’s reunification with Russia. The short text of the statement clearly outlines the relations of each of the six countries with the EU.

"The Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, the country of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with the decision to extend the existing restrictive measures [against Crimea] until 23 June 2020," the statement reads. The abstract contains additional explanation that although Albania and Montenegro are already considered candidates to join the EU, they simultaneously remain parties to the Stabilization and Association Process. The countries that are preparing to join the union are invited to join this process. Unlike this process, European Union Association Agreements are signed exclusively to develop economic and political cooperation with no prospects for future integration.

Sanctions against Crimea and Sevastopol are prolonged annually for twelve months without a need for discussion. They were imposed under the EU strategy of non-recognition of Crimea’s reunification with Russia. They include a ban on the EU’s import of any Crimean goods and any European investment in Crimea, such as acquisition of real estate, investment in business and services, including tourist services. European ships are prohibited from entering Crimea ports and planes from landing at Crimea’s airports on all occasions except for emergencies.

There is an effective ban on exports to Crimea of any goods and technologies in the field of transport, telecommunications, energy, oil production and refining, and mineral resources production and on the provision of any technical services to companies operating in these sectors of the economy.

The EU policy of sanctions against Russia proceeds along three separate tracks: visa restrictions against Russian citizens, economic sectoral sanctions against Russian public companies in the oil, defense and financial sectors, and restrictive measures against Crimea. All these packages were introduced in 2014. The former two are prolonged every six months, and restrictive measures against Crimea, every twelve months.

After the coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014, Crimea and Sevastopol held a referendum, in which 96.7% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Eighty percent of the voting population participated in the referendum. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deal on March 18, 2014, which the Federation Council (upper house of the Russian parliament) ratified on March 21, 2014. Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.