Ukraine Insists on Solidifying its European Integration Perspective in the Association Agreement with the EU
Kyiv, July 20, 2011. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Kostyantyn Gryshchenko said that Association Agreement with the European Union is a priority for Ukraine and that the country would insist upon solidifying its European perspective regardless of the skepticism of some EU member states. Such statement was released during an informal meeting of the Group of Friends of Ukraine before the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting on July 18 in Brussels.
The meeting was organized by Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis in cooperation with Foreign Minister of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union Radoslaw Sikorski and the head of the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. The meeting was attended by more than ten EU officials including the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle and foreign ministers of the Czech Republic, Romania and Latvia. The objective of the Group of Friends of Ukraine is to help Ukraine pursue the path of European integration successfully.
According to Gryshchenko, the decision to sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine requires certain political courage from the EU members. At the same time, the Agreement will be a powerful stimulus for the Ukrainian society to accept the unpopular reforms, currently in the making.
Certain progress has been recently reported in the EU – Ukraine negotiations on the Association Agreement. Specifically, on July 12, 2011, during the 19th round of negotiations the sides agreed upon a number of issues: justice, freedom and safety, political dialogue. Earlier, both Ukraine and the EU expressed their intention to sign the Association Agreement by the end of 2011. This spring both parties noted that 90% of Free Trade Agreement positions – integral part of the Association Agreement - had been agreed upon.
Over the course of the EU – Ukraine negotiations, there has been a lot of skepticism expressed regarding the European integration of Ukraine. In early 2007 France insisted on removal of any hints of Ukraine’s European perspective from the draft of the future Association Agreement. Likewise, various media reported that Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg strongly opposed including the statement that “Ukraine is a European State” in any legally binding documents signed by the EU.