The European Union is freezing its work with the Ukrainian government on a controversial trade agreement, which the country decided to postpone last month triggering massive protests. Kiev said it has the will to continue talks.
The EU believes that Ukraine’s position in the negotiations on the Association Agreement has “no grounds in reality”, tweeted EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele.
The angry remarks came after Fuele’s meeting with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov.
Commenting on the news, the Ukrainian PM’s office said Kiev has a strong intention to continue negotiations with the EU. But Kiev will only respond to official messages from the Europeans, and not tweets, a spokesman for the Prime Minister added.
The EU and Ukraine resumed work on the agreement on Thursday this week after a pause. Ukrainian officials insist that the country is interested in signing it, but wants to do it on its own terms. The EU says it will not change the terms of the deal, but is prepared to ‘negotiate a roadmap’ on the deal’s implementation and assist Kiev in securing credit tranches from the International Monetary Fund.
Following Fuele’s outburst, an EU source familiar with the stalled talks said Ukraine is being unreasonable in demanding financial compensation from the union.
“We are essentially making a gift to Ukraine [by offering the free trade deal], so we cannot understand their talking about compensation,” the source told the Itar-Tass news agency.
The trade deal, which was viewed by many Ukrainians as the first step for an eventual accession of their country into the European Union, was due to be signed earlier this month at a summit in Lithuania.
But weeks before the meeting Kiev decided that it would suspend signing the deal. It cited concerns over the impact on the Ukrainian economy the move would have caused, and the lack of financial aid from Europe to cushion the blow.
The decision announced in late November triggered massive protests in the Ukrainian capital and some other large cities. The protesters initially demanded that President Viktor Yanukovich overturn his decision. But as the EU summit passed without a trade deal for Ukraine, they turned their anger on the government and demanded its resignation. see more