Ukraine ready to sign association agreement during March EU summit


EXCLUSIVE / Ukraine’s new government wants to sign its Association Agreement with the EU at the 20-21 March summit of EU leaders, a high-ranking diplomat told EurActiv today (27 February).

The signature of the Association Agreement (AA) will bolster Ukraine's strength in the face of Moscow, which is putting greater pressure on Kyiv’s new authorities, the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU Kostiantyn Yelisieiev told EurActiv, just before meeting high EU officials to pass on the same message.

An association agreement between the EU and Ukraine was initialled in March 2012 and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) was also agreed. The EU had ambitions to sign those deals at the 28-29 November Vilnius summit on the Eastern Partnership, but its plans were derailed by the then president of the country, Viktor Yanukovich.

Yelisieiev, who is known to be a genuinely pro-European Ukrainian diplomat, said that the speedy signature of the AA was needed for five reasons.

First, he said, it would respond to the major demand of the Euromaidan protesters, who started their action on 21 November 2013, when the former government of Mikolay Azarov announced it had suspended its bid to sign the landmark agreement with the EU, and that it would seek to develop relations with Russia instead (see background).

Second, the diplomat explained, a signed deal with the EU would strengthen the position of the new authorities in Kyiv towards Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly ordered surprise military training in its central and western regions, the latter of which borders Ukraine. The Defence Ministry said on Thursday that it had put warplanes situated along its western borders on combat alert.

Thirdly, the speedy signature of the AA would eliminate the risk of the issue becoming a factor in the presidential campaign, Yelisieiev said. Early presidential elections are due on 25 May.

Fourthly, he explained, the signature of AA would serve as a basis for reforms, in view of the expected international effort to help the country avoid bankruptcy. According to various sources, an international donors’ conference is expected to be convened very soon to address Ukraine’s needs.

And last but not least, Yelisieiev noted that the signature of the AA would confirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Reportedly, in Crimea, a peninsula which is part of Ukraine, pro-Russian armed forces have seized the regional government and parliament buildings and hoisted Russian flags.

Asked if he expected the AA to be accompanied by a political declaration, which could spell out the “European perspective” of Ukraine, which is a non-committal jargon term to say that the country is seen by the EU as a future member of the Union, Yelisieiev confirmed that this was the expectation of his authorities.

The diplomat also stressed that previous EU assurances stressing the door was open for Ukraine to sign the AA when Kyiv was ready to do so had a simple answer: Ukraine is now ready, he said. Among the previous pre-conditions was the liberation of Yulia Tymoshenko from jail, which materialised last Saturday, as well as commitment to reform the judiciary, which is one of the biggest priorities for the new government.

Yelisieiev said that the best moment to sign the AA would be the spring EU summit on 20-21 March. According to the Ukrainian constitution, the AA could be signed either by the president, by the prime minister, or by a mandated minister, he explained.

“That’s why I think that any formulation like let’s wait until the 25 May elections would be unfounded,” the diplomat said.

Asked if there was a technical obstacle for Brussels to sign the agreement with the present caretaker government, Commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly said that the new government was not yet sworn in, and the EU would “look at the options” regarding the AA once this had happened.

It is unclear whether some of the larger EU countries like Germany favour the speedy signing of the AA. They may fear that such a move would further antagonise Russia.

Yelisieiev has always expressed doubts about whether the freeing of Tymoshenko is indeed a stumbling block for signing the AA. “I fear that if this obstacle is removed some countries will find another one”, the Ukrainian diplomat has repeatedly said.

  • 20-21 March: Spring EU summit to focus on growth, competitiveness and jobs
  • 25 May: Ukraine to hold early presidential elections


Karel Yurian's picture

No chance.

We in the EU do not want to bail out UKRAINE with €30 Billion.

David Muscat's picture

Well well, now that Catherine Ashton the poodle for the USA has messed up with promising the earth for the Ukraine and has said that they would bail the UKraine out the issue is that they acted defiantly and ensured that they hid their €40 Billion away from prying eyes and the result is bankruptcy. The EU/USA sponsored riots have created there an issue which only Catherine Ahton can be held responsible - blood on her hands.

Reality's picture

Let Russia have the Crimea or be prepared for long-term unrest and energy reprisals. It was theirs until 1954.

exquisiteur's picture

So a interim government set up from a coup d'etat (that is the legal name), would sign an agreement with our EUSSR BEFORE the ukrainian country elects a president and a new parliament ?

Is this usual democratic practice in the EUSSR of ours or this is a practice of the oligarchic system supposed to be ousted ?

Or is it that our EUSSR politburo is afraid of the election turn out ? Why turn down a referendum ?

All this is getting very confusing for a small brain.

Barry Davies's picture

So an unelected idiot who caused a lot of the unrest at the eussr says that an unelected government in the Ukraine can sign up to the eussr whilst the reason for the the pending civil war in Ukraine is on a knife edge, and they gave this bunch of idiots a nobel peace prize.

Barry Davies's picture

So an unelected idiot who caused a lot of the unrest at the eussr says that an unelected government in the Ukraine can sign up to the eussr whilst the reason for the the pending civil war in Ukraine is on a knife edge, and they gave this bunch of idiots a nobel peace prize.

Fritz's picture

I would welcome the Ukraine in the european family as well as Russia and any other of the nearby countries.
If we work together it will be a win-win-situation. So why "shoot" (bullets or words) at each other?

tor gjesdal's picture

The EU should be condemned for making millions of European working peoples and pensioners suffer economically, etc., and signing the AA agreement with a Caretaker Government and appointed President of Ukraine is Illegal by true international standards. The Maidan Protesters are Not satisfied with the Interim Government being a representation of the Ukrainian peoples.
Immense Interferences in Ukraine's internal affairs by both USA and EU representatives, and politicians of EU countries would Never be allowed in Any EU country nor in the USA or Canada.
EU is responsible for enormous economic crimes in European countries and is seen by most peoples as an Instrument for Western Elites, Bankers and Oligarchs ( and should I included Royalty, as Ashton is a Baroness?)
The utter stupidity of aggravating Russia even More by the West can easily show that todays Top political leaders in Europe and North America are out of touch with the modern real world, and the wishes of the people that elected them in the first place.
If the EU really want to exist and have any credibility left ; go after the mill/billionaires and Corporations that have Stolen the enormous fortunes from European peoples and governments. Not go after Ukraine's peoples and make Them suffer even more, and open up for big Food Chain industries, etc., to steal Ukrainian enormous farm lands, etc., etc..

European's picture

Dear Karel,
who do you mean by WE in the EU..could you please legitimize who gave you mandate to speak on behalf of the European Union citizens..i dont remeber to have given you my vote...I for instance from the EU was not happy to pay to Greece for mistakes everybody knew they were making (but slosing their eyes)...I from the EU also dont want to pay so much assistance to various places around the world to serve British, French, or whoevers strategic interest, but we do as we are bound by the common external policy of all the 28th Member is a consensual decision..

all the others, congratulations ladies and gentlemen, your words a great expression of the ignorance ruling all the world...for most of you it maybe very comfortable in your London City apartment, or french countryside villa...but it seems to me you are missing the big picture..Ukranians do not fight for the EU, this is just a symbol..they fight for a change which has been lagging in this part of the world for the past 20 years..please try to leave in the post Soviet space and you will learn very quickly what I ma talking about...people are tired to see how their country lagging behind, whereas the world is rushing ahead into new era..Besides, it is a question of huge choice for their future...if they do not choose EU AA, they will be forece by the cicumstances (not having protection) to join the Russia-led customs Union...

please inform yourself before doing comments here, also try to put yourself in Unkrainians'shoes for a bit...and do not be a minority in the world in your interpretation of the events in UA...

by the way one more remark: The parliament in fact is legitimate institution, eledted by the people, to take all the decicions we have seen by now..dont forget this is not a new parlaiment, but the very same where the Party of the Regions was rulling...just some persons of the party have changed their minds on few topics for the past few weeks...

Gjesdal's picture

If this takes place it is illegal as Caretaker government has no such authority. Also Maidan protestors are Not satisfied with this temporary Government, and specially the interim President, but also prime Minister. It amounts Trickery for any signing with EU until after Elections. The EU and West should be condemn severely if agreeing to such signing. The West including USA has acted underhanded concerning Ukraine and ignored the real demands of the Ukrainian peoples in Their own interests. EU is also not a Democratic institution, but basically operates by wishes of Elites and Bankers and Ukraine's people have had enough of being cheated by such. The real reasons for the Maidan protest were Not the November refusal to sign with EU, but the People demands to End Corruption in Ukraine and for Ukrainian peoples to get fairer pay for their work. Such premature signing of AA is also not in the best interest for the Good peoples of this world.