EU and Ukraine Sucessfully Complete Association Negotiations (Updated)
Kyiv, November 14, 2011. The 21st round of the four year negotiations of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine becomes the final one. According to the statements by the negotiating parties, the two-hour talks, held in Brussels on November 11, 2011, ended successfully. The spokesperson for the European Commission Peter Stano expressed the EU’s satisfaction with the progress made, while the Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov stated that Ukraine compromised over all the reasonable aspects.
Immediately after the completion of the Association Agreement negotiations the Mission of Ukraine to European Communities released a statement, reporting to have settled most of the issues that existed prior to the negotiations. On his behalf, Prime Minister Azarov noted that only one aspect of the Association Agreement remained to be discussed – the European perspective of Ukraine, reports Interfax.
Additionally to the official statements, Kommersant claimed to have obtained a comment from a negotiations insider. The source notes that at the start of the 21st round of negotiations two issues remained unresolved – the duration of the Association Agreement and the implementation of the norms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in the Ukrainian legislation.
As the negotiations went on, Ukraine agreed to implement the Rome Statute norms despite the need to amend the Constitution to this end. The Kommersant’s source explained that this issue had been a bargaining chip for Ukraine, while the duration of the Association Agreement was a much more important issue.
The EU insisted upon an indefinite duration of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Changes were to be allowed only with mutual consent of the signees. Meanwhile, Ukraine insisted upon establishing the ten-year duration of the Agreement with the provision to hold a comprehensive revision of the document’s principles in five years.
As a result of the negotiations, the EU agreed to set the duration of the Association Agreement, although the automatic prolongation of the agreement is also provided for. Moreover, each party got the right to initiate the comprehensive revision of the treaty.
The sources of Kommersant insisted that a compromise over the issue of European perspective of Ukraine had been reached, though not documented. Despite the previous statements of Ukrainian top officials, Kyiv has made a decision to declare the beginning of the official preparations to join the EU without a respective clause included in the text of the Association Agreement.
UPDATE: On November 15, 2011, Ukraine’s representative to the European Union Kostyantyn Yeliseev made an official statement concerning the results of the negotiations. He said: “The compromise is that the period of validity is not limited, but within five years of the document coming into force, the agreement will be reviewed by the mutual agreement of the parties.”