Saturday, December 20, 2014


Ukraine

After Kyiv Snub, Kwasniewski Says EU-Ukraine Deal Is Off

Ukrainian deputies look on as a supporter of jailed Yulia Tymoshenko scatters leaflets with a portrait of her during a session of the parliament in Kyiv on November 19.
Ukrainian deputies look on as a supporter of jailed Yulia Tymoshenko scatters leaflets with a portrait of her during a session of the parliament in Kyiv on November 19.
By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
KYIV -- Senior EU envoy Aleksander Kwasniewski has said no deal will be signed between the bloc and Ukraine at a summit next week in Vilnius.

Kwasniewski told Polish media on November 21 that there would be no Association Agreement signed with Ukraine after Ukrainian lawmakers earlier in the day failed to agree on legislation that would allow jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment abroad -- one the EU's key conditions for signing the agreement with Kyiv.

Ukraine's government also announced it was suspending preparations to sign the agreement with the EU.

A government decree on November 21 said the process was halted in order to fully analyze the impact of the planned agreement on industrial production and trade with Russia.

The decree was signed by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.

Russia had been angered by the proposed deal, and has warned Kyiv of trade repercussions.

Ukraine's government also proposed setting up a three-party trade commission between Ukraine, the European Union, and Russia.

Just hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had suggested setting up a tripartite commission with Ukraine and the EU but said such a commission could be set up only before any agreement is signed.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia welcomed Ukraine's decision to "improve and develop trade and economic cooperation" with Russia.

Snubbing Brussels

Kwasniewski, who is a Polish former president, and Irish politician Pat Cox have been monitoring Ukraine ahead of the Vilnius summit. Kwasniewski said on November 21 in Warsaw that his mission with Cox "is over."

Kwasniewski and Cox's monitoring mission issued a statement describing it as a "difficult situation." 

"At the end of our 27th mission visit to Ukraine, we express our deep disappointment at the unilateral decision of the Ukrainian Government to postpone the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union," the mission said in a statement. "We take note of the Prime Minister`s remarks on the stressed state of economy and the dramatically increased pressure from Russia in recent weeks."

A spokesman meanwhile announced that EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele had canceled a planned visit to Ukraine later the same day.

The EU's Eastern Partnership summit is scheduled on November 28-29 in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency.

Ahead of the summit, EU officials have repeatedly warned that Ukraine may not have another chance at signing the Association Agreement for several years.

"This is a disappointment not just for the EU but, we believe, for the people of Ukraine," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a written statement. "The reforms adopted over the last months have been far reaching. The signing of the most ambitious agreement the EU has ever offered to a partner country would have further enhanced the reform course of Ukraine and sent a clear signal to investors worldwide as well as to international financial institutions that Ukraine is serious about its modernization pledge and becoming a predictable and reliable interlocutor for international markets. It would have provided a unique opportunity to reverse the recent discouraging trend of decreasing foreign direct investment in Ukraine and would have given momentum to negotiations on a new standby arrangement with the IMF."

Yanukovych's Role

The Ukrainian opposition has accused President Viktor Yanukovych of deliberately stalling on the EU Association Agreement.

But Yanukovych, on a visit to Austria on November 21, said Ukraine will continue on the path to European integration.

He also said Tymoshenko's case could be resolved only within the framework of the law.

"The solution of the Tymoshenko issue is only possible within the framework of the Ukrainian law," Yanukovych said. "I have stressed this repeatedly."

The opposition earlier in the day reiterated calls for Yanukovych to pardon Tymoshenko.

While some EU officials sought to cast the Ukrainian decision in a more positive light, European Parliament member and Poland's onetime negotiator on Warsaw's Association Agreement with the European Union in the early 1990s Jacek Saryusz-Wolski lay Ukraine's snub squarely at the doorstep of Yanukovych's administration.

He accused the former villain of the Orange Revolution and Tymoshenko rival of dealing with the European Union "in bad faith."

"He [Yanukovych] was telling one thing to the [European] Union side, promising, and in the same time giving orders to his disciplined Party of the Regions to block it in the Verkhovna Rada," Saryusz-Wolski said, referring to the Ukrainian parliament. "So this saga [for] a few weeks already was very much indicating what happened today. Today everything has been brought to the surface. I think [Yanukovych] might have been negotiating with the European Union all the time in bad faith. In a sense that he wanted to come to a moment where he could bargain at the same time with Brussels and Moscow -- see who gives more and then chose the better option. I think that this is the end of the story with this administration. It is obvious there will be no signing in Vilnius."


With reporting by RFE/RL Brussels correspondent Rikard Jozwiak, AFP, and Interfax

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