The European Commission announced today (20 December) that an EU-Ukraine summit would be held on 25 February, ending a year of uncertainty about the timing of the next leadership meeting.
Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said EU leaders had invited Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to Brussels on 25 February.
The announcement was made two days after Yanukovich pulled out of gas price talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the last minute.
The postponement revived memories of disputes between the two countries that led to reductions in the supply of Russian natural gas to Europe through Ukraine's pipeline network in 2006 and 2009. Putin was expected in Brussels today for the second EU-Russia summit this year.
Ukrainian new media quoted experts who believed that Yanukovich’s own visit to Moscow would be postponed until after the EU-Ukraine summit in February.
A choice between the EU and Russia
Ukraine was “welcome to join” Russia’s Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said yesterday, adding that that his country was “putting no pressure” on Kyiv.
He said, however, Ukraine had to make a choice between the EU and Russia, because no country was able to join two customs unions.
The Kyiv Post quoted Vitaly Biala, director of the Situations Modelling Agency think tank, who said that Ukrainian politics were “irrational” and loaded with “a lot of psychology”.
"A simple example: Yanukovich faces tough criticism during the EU-Ukraine summit… If that happens, then, against such a psychological background, Yanukovich can really be invited [to Moscow] and shown a different attitude: 'Did you see how you are treated in Europe? So let us agree with us again,'" Fesenko said.
EU sources told EurActiv the European Commission didn’t have plans to treat Yanukovich badly. They pointed out at the Conclusions from the 10 December Foreign Affairs Council, which presented a roadmap leading towards the signing of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA).
EU ministers state that the future of Ukraine’s EU relations will depend on progress in three main areas: the compliance of the 2012 parliamentary elections’ with international standards and follow-up actions; Ukraine’s progress in addressing the issue of selective justice and preventing its recurrence; and the implementation of the reforms defined in the jointly agreed Association Agenda.
The signature of the Association Agreement and DCFTA, EU sources said, could take place at the Vilnius Summit of the EU’s ‘Eastern Partnership’ in November 2013.
The text of the 906-page Association Agreement was recently published by BlogActiv.
The December 2011 EU-Ukraine Summit failed to initial the country's Association Agreement with the Union, largely due to the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko that Brussels sees as politically motivated.
The five-year negotiations over the Association Agreement were concluded, but EU leaders made it clear that the deal would not be signed until improvements are made to the "quality of democracy and rule of law" in Ukraine.
- OilPrice: Ukraine and Russia gamble over Europe’s gas supply
- Kyiv Post: Russia not interested in new ‘gas war’ with Ukraine, experts say
- Kyiv Post: Experts: Yanukovich’s visit to Moscow could be postponed until EU-Ukraine summit
- BBC: Press suspicious as Russia-Ukraine talks postponed
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EurActiv Germany: Putin lockt Ukraine mit Milliarden-Vorteilen in die Zollunion