22nd Feb 2024

Prodi does not exclude Ukraine joining the EU

  • ROMANO PRODI - President of the EU Commission held talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH (l) in Brussels. (Photo: European Commission)

President of the European Commission Romano Prodi met with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko on Monday in Brussels to discuss the future status of Ukraine in an enlarged EU.

Referring to an interview he made in October with the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, Mr Prodi denied that he had ever definitely closed the door for Ukraine to join the EU.

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I have never used the word "never" when speaking about the possibility of Ukrainian EU accession, the Commission President told journalists. According to Mr Prod,i both sides are working to deepen the co-operation in all areas except for institutional questions.

An agreement on a package of trade rules was also reached on Monday between the EU and Ukraine, which brings the ex-Soviet Union country closer to membership of the World Trade Organisation.

Neighbourhood agreements not meeting expectations

Brussels says that it supports Ukraine’s accession into the WTO as soon as it fully respects WTO rules. "With today's move, Ukraine is a step closer to becoming a member of the WTO," EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in a statement.

"Ukraine's commitments for non-agricultural and agricultural goods, as well as for trade in services, are balanced and in line with its economic capacities," Mr Lamy said.

Despite the deepening relationship between Kiev and Brussels, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made clear that the so-called "neighbourhood" proposal presented by the European Commission last week does not fully meet Ukrainian expectations.

The proposal says the EU should offer Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova, among others, closer economic integration and enhanced political cooperation in exchange for political, economic, and institutional reform based on "shared values."

Ukrainian politicians and analysts say the proposals do not address Kiev's aim of eventually joining the EU.

Polish support for Ukraine

The Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Georgos Papandreou stated on Tuesday that "with enlargement we are not creating new walls but bridges with our new neighbours."

Although the Ukrainian State Secretary for European Integration Oleksandr Chalii feels that Ukraine needs a stronger message from Brussels, he said that the indication he received was that "the door of EU in the long-term is open for Ukraine."

Ukrainian aspirations for the EU integration were backed today by its Western neighbour. Poland insists on offering to Ukraine the right to sign an association agreement with the European Union, Polish ambassador to the EU Marek Grela said.

According to Mr Grela this would be an important incentive for the internal economic reforms in the country.

Prodi: EU enlargement has to stop somewhere

The European Commission President Romano Prodi said that certain countries should not become EU members but their engagement should be limited to an economic partnership. In an interview in La Stampa, Mr Prodi said that Russia, Ukraine and Mediterranean rim countries such as Israel can never become full members of the European Union.


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