Lithuanian Presidency thunderstuck by Ukraine’s decision to put its EU association on ice

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>>Read article: Ukraine stuns EU by putting association deal on ice

The Ukrainian government has published a decision to stop its preparations to sign an Association Agreement with the EU.

The statement says that decision is adopted with the view to elaborate measures vis-a-vis “Russia and other countries from the Community of Independent states”.

Ukraine says it will propose to the EU and Russia to form a tripartite commission to handle complex issues. Also, Kyiv will “resume an active dialogue with the Russian Federation and other countries of the Customs Union and the member states of the CIS on the revival of trade and economic relations in order to preserve and strengthen joint efforts of economic potential”.

The statement has thunderstruck EU officials.

Appearing at a press event minutes after the Ukrainian government’s decision became known, Linas Linkevicius, foreign minister of Lithuania, the country holding the rotating EU presidency, said there was not enough clarity and the best was “to wait”.

He also said that EU diplomats had information that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a jail sentence, will make a statement.

He appeared to try to make humour by saying that the developments were “interesting, not boring”.

Asked by EURACTIV if it wasn’t a mistake from the beginning that the asscociation of Eastern Partnership members Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia had been put up as a zero-sum game in which either the EU or Russia would win, or the other player would lose, he said that there was no precedent that another country, such as Russia, would be part of EU association negotiations with a third country.

In the same way, he said the EU was not part of the Customs Union accession negotiations of Kirghizstan or Armenia.

It’s “very difficult” to discuss issues when zero-sum approach is applied, he said, but said this was not the way the EU was seeing the process.

Asked if an extraordinary meeting of foreign affairs ministers’would be held, he said that was up to Catherine Ashton, but added that it was not excluded.

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