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).

EU says trade deal with Ukraine 'still on the table', as Kiev hopes to sign it at March summit

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.

exquisiteur's picture

"they fight for a change which has been lagging in this part of the world for the past 20 years."

Lagging behind in what respect ? You mean not to be part of the 250 millions of Europeans (50%)under or at poverty line ?

or do you behind because not able to queue for 3 days and night in order to get the last Iphone 5 ?

Probably you have a vision of an idealistic EU while we experiment it every day as the EUssr .

To prove it , I have seen people queuing behind shop's door to get food or electronics stuff.

This is the ideological orgasm that EUssr proposes to us. If you are not a diligent daft consummer you have nocivil rights an unable to exert or enjoy the so-called democratic life.

Barry Davies's picture

Tor Gjesdal Ashton is a life peer not royalty, there is a vital difference.

European The eussr which is the political class not the people may have been happy to pay for the greek bailout but he actual people who paid for it weren't so pleased.

Ukrainians should be fighting for change, the break from the original ussr is still very recent, although the Ukraine was never the most pro ussr nation within it. Democracy is imperative, and as it was and the elected people are usually the ones calling the shots, the current situation arose because someone in power took the route of not continuing in the negotiations to join the eussr, presently it would appear that the only way forewords would be for the Ukraine to split, something I doubt that most people in Ukraine would want, there is one certainty the civil unrest currently occurring will achieve nothing in the short term, and the long term outcome is not possible to guess.

exquisiteur's picture

Reply to Fritz:
would welcome the Ukraine in the european family as well as Russia and any other of the nearby countries.

Do mean that when Russia joins the EUssr, China will be our neighbour, so China should join the EUssr ?

French Guyana (a border of the EUssr) has a common border whith Brazil, I would welcome the Brazil into the EUssr family. What do you think, would be nice to enjoy Rio's carnival free of charge ?

an european's picture

Let's simply come UKR into the European Union because they fight and given even their life to come in the E.U.!
I think the 30 Billis Bailout is more than worth only a merit to help their economy now !(rather than the greeks)
Go , UKR ! Rise with tremendious proud our E.U. Flag !

About Crimea ah yes Russia can keep it!

El Pluribus Unum

Keith's picture

Who is this mouth-piece for the CIA and Catherine Ashton European?

The EU cannot afford to bail out the Ukraine with the €40 Billion required, it has enough on its plates already.

Subramaniam's picture

Those in control in Kiev, who represent only those in western Ukraine, are not legitimate authorities and therefore any signature of the association agreement with the EU is invalid.

Barry Davies's picture

An agreement with the rebels in Kiev would be illegal under international law, not that a simple problem ilk that would bother the power hungry land grabbing failed politicians on the commission.

Victoria's picture

I agree with Karel.

We do not want and do not need the Ukraine.

Their extremists have notoriously treated minorities in the past far worse than even Pol Pot ever did. Their genocides in the 19th and 20th Century have never ever been forgiven and now they are repeating it through a mis-placed vision.

The EU cannot afford a bale out of €40 Billion which is barely a half of what is needed.

Let them go alone.

Karel's picture

Now anyone who has had access to watching the BBC Newsnight Programme from the UK will see that the writers here who knew that the Far Right Neo-Nazis in Western Ukraine are in control of the Kiev Government.

Their words say it all: Cleanse the Country of the Russians Jews and Others and have a clean country.

Surely now the EU must really take note and see these thugs for what they are.

They must not be allowed in the EU under the pretext of the New Ukraine.

an european's picture

@ Karel 01/03/2014
Explain me " here who knew that the Far Right Neo-Nazis in Western Ukraine are in control of the Kiev Government"

@ Victoria
What happened? "Their genocides in the 19th and 20th Century have never ever been forgiven and now they are repeating it through a mis-placed vision"

Barry Davies's picture

Karel the BBC has lost all its veneer of being honest and reporting facts not fiction so anything on there is taken with a pinch of salt these days, the eussr couldn't care less what is going on inUkraine as long as it gets its teeth into it with yet another land grab. The Kiev government is a coup d'etat, certainly, but as to its political leanings that is anyones guess.

The eussr, which is the political class not the people of the previously free nations, has been responsible because it threw its dolly out of the pram when the elected President of Ukraine decided that their terms of joining the club were unacceptable.

Vladomir's picture

We do not know who this "an european" is apart from an apologist for the Ukrainian Thugs and Far Right Extremists that took over the Government a few days ago, but in all the papers across Europe and the Middle East the use of Far Right and Neo-Fascist Parties (following the Nazis style "One Nation for the Ukrainians Only") has surfaced so many times that there is serious concern of another Genocide of Minorities in the Ukraine which will be fuelled by the USA and Uk and blamed on Others.

Caril's picture

The EU and its cronies do not understand anything here about the will of the EU people.

There has been no approval of any Government (transitional) in the UKRAINE since the last elections and this CORRUPT GOVERNMENT IN WAITING is going to extract promises from the EU just before the European Elections, what an illegal statement.

Everyone who is in the European Union who has any sense would be naturally concerned. Firstly the European Parliament is in temporary melt-down as the elections will be tabled. Secondly the outcome of the Ukrainian Elections could result in a total stand off and a neutral position of no decision. Thirdly the Ukrainian thugs who are continually shooting (sniping) with their rifles at their opponents and killing them by the scores are destabilising the country.

And Mrs C Ashton (there are no titles to people in the European Union, titles awarded by the UK Government do not stand up in the EU or the UN) is a mere yes man to the American (USA) Government. Mr Kerry almost committed the Government of the USA to war yesterday. "How foolish is the man who tries to sing and knoweth not the tune!" This is an issue where the failings of the incompetence of those who do not understand the issues are driving the issue to military intervention. The only issues the USA and iis interested in is making more armaments so that its economy can look strong again. This has always been the USA's sole intent. Everywhere it goes, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and previously Viet Nam or before then (some years ago!) Phillipines in the early 20th Century it has brought misery to the World. This does not mean that the Great War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1941 to 1945) and Korea were not correct to interfere in as these were just. To a certain degree Iraq was just - the first time under Mr Bush the Senior - but it was not finished at that time as it should have been - and so now we have the consequences.

Of course the President of the Russian Federation Mr V Putin is concerned about the issues in the Ukraine and the Crimean Autonomous Region, so would the USA if it had a major Naval Fleet there.

Let's all calm down and get back to normalities.