Thursday

20th Sep 2018

Ukraine to sign EU trade treaty in June

Ukraine’s new leader has told Lithuania that he plans to sign the EU free trade treaty in Kiev in early June.

“He [Ukrainian president-elect Petro Porosehnko] is keen to continue what he promised in his election campaign and to sign as soon as possible, preferably after his inauguration in early June, and he would like to sign it in Kiev,” Lithuania’s foreign minister, Linas Linkevicius, told EUobserver on Thursday (29 May) after meeting Poroshenko in Ukraine.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Astana: If Ukraine signs the DCFTA, it will be legally bound to stay out of Putin's club (Photo: kremlin.ru)

“When it comes to his readiness to sign, the rumours of hesitation are wrong ... I have full confidence,” he added.

Porosehnko won last Sunday’s election with 55 percent and is to be sworn in on 7 June.

Following his victory, he spoke of “implementing” the EU “association agreement” and “realising Ukrainians’ European aspirations.”

But he did not promise to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) at a specific time and place, prompting concern he might fudge things to make a deal with Russia.

Linkevicius - the first senior EU politician to visit Kiev since the election - spoke to EUobserver the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a treaty to create a "Eurasian Economic Union" in 2015.

Ukraine was supposed to be a cornerstone of the new bloc.

If it signs the DCFTA, it can still have free trade with Russia, but it will be legally bound to stay out of the Eurasian Union.

Putin said in Astana on Thursday: "They try to stick this label on us - a label that we are trying to restore an empire, the Soviet Union, make everyone subordinate. This absolutely does not correspond to reality".

He has also promised to de-escalate the Ukraine conflict.

But for the Lithuanian minister, his actions speak louder than words.

Linkevicius told this website that Russia is sending weapons and fighters into Ukraine “as we speak”.

He said the Ukrainian helicopter shot down by pro-Russia rebels near Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, killing 14, was shot with a model of rocket-propelled grenade “which is not possessed by the Ukrainian army, it is produced by the Russian military".

He also said he has “signals" the Vostok Battalion - a group of fighters from Chechnya, Russia - has crossed into east Ukraine.

“This is not an internal conflict. If it was left to the Ukrainians themselves to calm the situation, the crisis would be over by now”.

Linkevicius noted the rebels are “increasingly intimidating" peace monitors from the OSCE, a Vienna-based multilateral club, “in an operation designed to end the monitoring mission, to get them out of the territory”.

He added: “We [the EU] should seriously think about how to maintain an international presence here”.

EU pressure

EU leaders on Tuesday warned Russia if it continues its war against Ukraine they will impose extra “targeted measures”.

The EU has so far blacklisted 61 Russians and pro-Russia Ukrainians, as well as two Russia-annexed Crimean companies.

“We should continue keeping pressure on Russia by preparing ‘stage three’ sanctions,” the Lithuanian minister said, referring to potential economic sanctions.

“We should also continue using ‘stage two’ targeted measures against individuals. We shouldn’t stop that,” he added.

“Those who think the [Russia-Ukraine] situation is becoming more stable are wrong. The EU cannot stand by, watch, and not react.”

Agenda

Obama back in Brussels this WEEK

US President Obama is back in the EU capital this week for a summit of G7 wealthy nations to be dominated by Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. UK's Brexit plan 'won't work', says EU's Tusk
  2. Austria ex-chancellor hints at running for Juncker's job
  3. Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp
  4. Transatlantic soya trade soars due to trade wars
  5. EU tables strategy for connecting Europe and Asia
  6. Bulgaria backs Hungary in dispute with EU
  7. Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants
  8. EU-Arab League summit proposed for February in Egypt

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us