Tuesday

28th Jan 2020

Ashton casts doubt on Yanukovych promises

  • Ashton in Kiev: 'I merely tell you that that's what he's been saying' (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has voiced doubt on the integrity of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych after their second meeting in Ukraine.

Speaking to press in Kiev on Wednesday (11 December) she said the Ukrainian leader: "assured me when I met him that he does intend to sign the [EU] association agreement."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

She noted, however: "I merely tell you that that's what he's been saying."

She added: "I have to accept that what the President says to me, is what he's saying to me, for me to carry back the message. But you know, it's always important to verify by seeing what happens next and we want to see what is said turned into what is done."

Ashton spoke following an attack by riot police on pro-EU protesters on Wednesday morning.

She also spoke after Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov told media that Ukraine wants €20 billion in extra money to implement the EU pact.

She indicated the EU is unwilling to pay.

"This is not about bids for this country … This is not a decision about 'Oh here's x amount of money if only you'll sign.' We're not interested in that," Ashton said.

Her remarks come amid ongoing EU-Ukraine talks on reviving the treaty, however.

Ukrainian central bank and foreign ministry officials met with her staff in Brussels last week.

Ukraine's deputy PM, Serhiy Arbuzov, is also planning to come to the EU capital on Thursday.

At the same time, EU countries are in talks with international lenders - the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - on potential Ukraine aid.

"If you ask them, they will deny it, but behind the scenes there is a lot of discussion going on along those lines," an EU source told the Reuters news agency.

Ashton declined to speak of sanctions if police violence continues.

But the US on Wednesday did not rule out punitive measures.

A US state department official, Jen Psaki, told reporters in Washington that the US still sees "an opening … to move toward European integration."

She added, however: "All policy options, including sanctions, are on the table in our view."

US sanctions would hurt Ukraine much less than EU travel bans or asset freezes on Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians.

Many of Ukraine's big men have business and personal assets in EU countries.

Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man and a leading sponsor of Yanukovych's Party of the Regions, for one, owns steel plants in Bulgaria, Italy, and the UK, as well as a €160 million apartment in London.

Meanwhile, EU diplomats are watching Ukrainian TV to see which way the wind is blowing.

Akmhetov and other oligarchs, such as Ihor Kolomoyskyi, Victor Pinchuk and Dmitry Firtash, own TV stations which used to be loyal to Yanukovych.

They have been broadcasting continuous footage of protests and police violence in recent days.

But their intentions remain unclear.

An EU diplomat told this website the broadcasts might be an "insurance policy" to keep themselves off any future EU blacklists.

They might also be designed to help Yanukovych sign a rival pact with Russia, by prompting the EU and US to cut ties and allowing him to blame the West for his decision.

Ashton in two-day visit to Ukraine

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Kiev Tuesday to bring "clear EU messages" amid fears there will be more violence against protesters.

News in Brief

  1. UK approves limited role for Huawei in 5G network
  2. Cases of coronavirus in France and Germany
  3. Report: EU court seeks authority on post-Brexit deal
  4. Slovenian PM resigns, calls snap election
  5. Merkel wants EU-Balkan talks agreement by March
  6. Germany: UN sanctions to enforce Libya ceasefire
  7. Irish PM: UK weaker than EU in trade talks
  8. Report warns of challenges under new EU telecom rules

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. 'Brexit is not going to go away,' warns EU's Barnier
  2. Belgian spy services launch internal clear-up
  3. US and UK in war of words over Huwaei
  4. How Slovakia's far-right might pull off an election victory
  5. Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values
  6. Salvini down, but not out in Italy regional poll
  7. Brexit finally happens - the UK leaves the EU This WEEK
  8. Why is Netherlands so far behind on renewables?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us