Friday

13th Dec 2019

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 20 years of archives. 30-day 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 exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  2. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  3. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  4. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  5. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help
  6. Malta PM urged to step down ahead of EU summit
  7. France rolls out new pension scheme amid protests
  8. Germany accused of aiding war crimes in Yemen

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.

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. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  2. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  3. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  4. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  5. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action
  6. Leaders to battle on climate target and money at summit
  7. Von der Leyen: 'Green Deal is our man-on-moon moment'
  8. North Atlantic mini states in geopolitical turbulence

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