23rd Oct 2016

Russia seeks new veto on EU-Ukraine pact

  • The three-way talks are due in Brussels on Friday (Photo:

Russia is hoping to use new talks on the EU-Ukraine trade treaty to alter the pact and to get a say on when it is implemented.

Its economic development minister, Alexei Ulukayev, is to hold the first round of the three-way talks with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, and the EU trade commissioner, Karl De Gucht, in Brussels on Friday (11 July).

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The Russian side on Wednesday circulated a draft statement to EU institutions which, EU sources say, it would like to be published in the form of a joint communique after the talks are held.

The draft text says “the three participants … agreed” to a series of measures.

One proposed initiative is to create expert-level “consultation bodies” which can be called to meet by any of the parties at two weeks’ notice.

It says the consultations will seek to identify “measures mitigating the negative effect of such implementation on Russia and its economic operators, including amendments to the AA/DCFTA [the EU-Ukraine treaty] as needed”.

It adds: “Until such mitigating measures are agreed upon trilaterally, the trade and economic parts of the AA/DCFTA will not enter into force and none of its provisions will be applied between the parties”.

The proposals - to amend the treaty if needed, and to wait for Russia’s approval before it is implemented - are seen as “red lines” by Ukraine, however.

A Ukrainian diplomatic source told EUobserver “this is once again vivid proof about the real intentions of the Russian Federation”.

“First they tried to use their influence on certain [EU] member states to delay the signature of the treaty. Now they are trying to postpone the ratification and implementation”.

An EU diplomat noted the Russian proposal is “open-ended” in terms of timing, meaning the treaty could be delayed indefinitely if Russia gets its way.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has in the past said Russia cannot have “a veto” on relations between the EU and Ukraine.

“Nothing has changed in the substance of our position”, an EU official told this website on Thursday.

“It's not certain that we will issue any kind of joint statement after tomorrow’s meeting,” the official added.

EU leaders and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the treaty at a highly-publicised ceremony in Brussels on 27 June.

At the time, Poroshenko promised Ukraine's parliament would vote on ratification before it breaks for summer. A clause in the DCFTA says it can enter into life “provisionally” without waiting for ratification by the 28 EU member states.

The strategic pact means Ukraine can have free trade with Russia but is legally bound to stay out of its Eurasian Union.

It also puts Ukraine on the path to potential future EU membership by making it align its laws and commercial standards with the EU rulebook.

The Russian mission to the EU could not immediately comment on the draft joint statement.

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