Eu/ukraine : Yanukovych: New Agreement with Eu of Vast Importance to Kiev

Article excerpt

Following the meeting with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on 27 March in Brussels, Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych emphasised "that the new agreement [between the EU and Ukraine] is of significant importance for both sides". The agreement, covering all areas of cooperation, "is a huge plan for the next ten years," added Yanukovych. He indicated that a free trade area established after Ukraine's accession to the WTO was the first task to be carried out.

President Barroso assured Yanukovych that the EU is determined to have closer relations with Ukraine. "We want the new agreement to bring Ukraine and the EU closer together," said Barroso. He emphasised that the agreement would include the free trade area between the EU and Ukraine. However, he made clear that Ukraine's closer trade relations with the EU depend on its entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO). "A free trade agreement can only be negotiated once Kiev has finalised its accession process to the WTO," said Barroso.

Asked when the negotiations on the new agreement could be finalised, Barroso refused to set any possible date, saying that the new deal was too complex to be clinched soon. "There are some vast and complex issues, but I believe that both sides can make real progress in the right direction," said Barroso.

AMBIGUITY AS TO EU ASPIRATIONS

Despite its assurances, the Ukrainian government led by Yanukovych, who is known for his good connections with the Kremlin, does not appear to be fully committed to potential EU membership. …