Tuesday

3rd May 2016

EU-Ukraine summit 'unlikely' this year

  • Yanukovych (l) and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy in happier times (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU and Ukraine will "most likely" not hold a summit this year, but diplomats blame it on technical instead of political reasons.

"We wanted to see the elections [in Ukraine] take place before we started preparations for the next summit, whch means this will most likely take place only next year ... sometime at the beginning of 2013," EU foreign service spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told EUobserver on Monday (5 November).

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A Ukrainian contact said December had been mooted as a potential summit date, but people are now speaking of January or February instead.

"You should have a summit but you also need some deliverables," the contact added, referring to a diplomatic custom in which every top-level meeting is accompanied by some kind of deal.

The two sides have held a summit every year for the past 15 years.

The break in tradition comes amid a sharp deterioration in ties since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych came to power in 2010.

The EU already cancelled a meeting with him in Brussels last October after he jailed his main political opponent, former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

Top EU officials did go to Kiev last December to initial an EU-Ukraine trade and political association agreement. But the frosty meeting in the Ukrainian capital came with a warning the pact will not be signed or ratified unless Tymoshenko goes free.

They told Yanukovych's Prime Minister Mykola Azaraov to "stay home" in May this year. EU leaders the same month boycotted a regional summit in Yalta and later boycotted the Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's parliamentary elections in October did nothing to repair damage.

International monitors, the Vienna-based OSCE, said "democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine" in their assessment of the vote. EU foreign service chief Catherine Ashton this weekend also complained about vote-counting delays.

In terms of the association pact, Kocijancic said EU foreign ministers will discuss the future of the treaty later this month.

One EU diplomat said the pact might be signed in order "not to push Ukraine into Belarus-type isolation."

But other sources said the signature is highly unlikely and that the summit postponement is linked to Yanukovych's increasingly bad name.

"Nobody wants to see him shaking hands with VIPs in Brussels so soon after the elections. It would be seen as EU approbation of his authority despite the poor conduct of the parliamentary vote," an EU diplomatic contact said.

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