EU-Ukraine Political Deal Likely Next Week

Written by | Thursday, March 13th, 2014

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday (March 12) that an EU-Ukraine political deal could be possibly signed as early as next week at a summit in Brussels scheduled for March 20-21. During a press conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw she added that the EU had agreed to sign the political part of the association agreement that was originally meant to be signed by Ukraine in late 2013. Ukraine’s failure to sign the deal subsequently triggered political turmoil and rioting throughout the country. The statement of Angela Merkel signals an acceleration of formal ties between Ukraine and the EU as the new pro-European government took office in Kiev last month.
After former President Yanukovych had been ousted and the new leadership installed, Brussels said that there was still “open door” for Ukraine to sign the deal but it remained cautious about the timing. Initially, the EU intended to postpone the signing until after the elections but now it wants to accelerate and have it signed by the time Ukraine holds its first post-Euromaidan elections in May this year. The acceleration in the process of the EU-Ukraine bilateral ties reflects the deterioration of the situation since Russia mobilized its forces on Crimea. Therefore, there was a growing pressure to tackle Russia’s intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea as well as to support Ukraine.
As a result, last week EU leaders agreed to suspend visa liberation and other talks with Moscow and warned that the “second stage of sanctions” could be imposed unless Russia changes its “policy” in Crimea. Moreover, Brussels has also offered to remove import duties for most Ukrainian goods in order to save the country’s firms about 500 million euros a year. The customs duties should have originally been removed as part of the association agreement. Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso ensured that this would not be the only measure to help the country as EU leaders will discuss the conditions of a 1-billion-euro emergency deal to boost Kiev’s treasury soon.

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