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Top U.S. Official Hails 'Historic Moment' For Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova

Victoria Nuland (file photo)
A top U.S. official has said Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova stand at a "historic moment" as they work toward EU integration, while also saying the United States and Russia "can't stop working" to find areas of "common purpose."

Victoria Nuland, the new U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, made the comments on November 14 in Washington in her first public address since taking office in October.

Nuland said Washington wanted to see Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova "knitted into the European family."

"Two weeks before the EU's summit in Vilnius, it is also a historic moment for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. All three countries have made advances in rule of law, in democracy, in market openness in order to meet the EU's strict conditions for Association Agreements and the Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade [Agreement]," Nuland said.

"The United States welcomes these nations' European choice and wants to see all three knitted into the European family with the kinds of trade benefits and visa-free travel the EU offers."

She particularly urged Ukrainian leaders to allow imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment abroad and pass overdue reforms in order to secure an Association Agreement with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.

"Ukraine, in particular, has three last steps to take to meet the EU's conditions -- passage of judicial and electoral reform legislation, and the release of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko from prison for medical treatment," Nuland said.

"We join the EU in urging Ukraine's leaders to make the right and historic choice for their 45 million citizens -- to choose their children's future over the grievances of the past."

Nuland said the United States and Russia shared common goals to the benefit of the rest of the world. However, she warned that Washington will not stop short of speaking out against instances of political persecution and human rights violations in Russia.

"But, even as we seek to build ballast and mutual benefit into our relationship, Americans will never sugarcoat it when we disagree with the Russian government's treatment of its political opposition, of the free media, of NGOs, or of members of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community, not to mention some of its foreign policies," she said.

"Nor can we fall victim to a false choice between our interests and our values. For us, they are also a package deal."

Nuland also praised moves by Serbia and Kosovo toward long-term reconciliation.

"We are also encouraged by the commitments that Serbia and Kosovo have made toward long-term reconciliation, under the patient mentorship of EU High Representative [Catherine] Ashton and with the full backing of the United States," she said.

"This process needs our continued support so that both countries achieve their goal of integrating fully into European structures."

Nuland, a former U.S. State Department spokeswoman, also warned of a "reevaluation" of U.S. policy should Bosnian leaders continue to block their country's path to EU and NATO membership.

"In Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is well past time for leaders to demonstrate courage and vision -- to move past the petty power interests and to build a modern, unified nation worthy of the talents and aspirations of all three communities," she said.

"If these leaders continue to block the country's path to the EU and NATO membership, Bosnia's international partners, the U.S. included, should seriously reevaluate our approach."

With reporting by AFP
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