EU leaders praise the deal; Russian adviser to Putin calls Ukrainian president a Nazi
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed an Association Agreement with the European Union in Brussels at 11 a.m. on June 27. The agreement had been in the works since March 2012 and was supposed to have been signed by his predecessor in November 2013.
Then-President Viktor Yanukovych, however, stalled the process and a Ukrainian government decree issued Nov. 21, 2013, suspended preparations for signing it in favor or closer ties with Russia. This led to widespread protests in Kiev’s Independence Square. The Euromaidan protests eventually led to the toppling of Yanukovych in February 2014.
Poroshenko took office June 7, after winning the May 25 election on a pro-Europe platform. Signing the Association Agreement with the European Union is his first major international act as president. The agreement creates a framework for co-operation between the EU and non-EU countries.
“By signing this Agreement, Ukraine takes enormous commitment in terms of reforms. The path of reforms will be difficult and painful but it is a basis of further successful development of Ukraine," Poroshenko said in Brussels, adding that Ukraine is ready to begin implementing and fulfilling the commitments. “To make it work, we are ready to proceed with ratification as soon as possible,” he added.
Moldava and Georgia also signed similar agreements at the same time.
“Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are the countries that demonstrate new economic goals. But first and foremost it is freedom and democracy in the post-Soviet space that will depend on the ability of these three countries to implement necessary reforms stipulated by the Agreement,” Poroshenko said.
EU leaders praised the move. “For the European Union, it is a solemn commitment to support Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, each step of the way along the road of transforming their countries into stable, prosperous democracies,” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said.
“The Agreements we are signing today are the most ambitious the European Union has entered into so far. … But let us be under no illusion. The task ahead is substantial. The Association Agreements’ main objective is to help to deliver on the partner countries’ own reforms, own ambitions,” he added.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy was also positive. “Stronger political and economic ties will bring greater stability and prosperity to the entire European continent. Such cooperation can only be based on common values: democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. It must be inspired by our vision of the unique value of each person,” he said.
“This signing is an arrival point – after two decades of our relations growing stronger. But it is also a starting point, opening the most ambitious external relationship ever developed with the European Union. These Agreements are not the final stage of our cooperation,” he added.
Russia has strongly opposed the agreements that concern former states of the Soviet Union. While the Kremlin website, which carries official statements from Russian President Vladimir Putin has been mute on the signing, Putin did refer to it in comments to at a meeting of foreign diplomats, according to news agency reports. “The unconstitutional coup in Kiev and the attempts to impose an artificial choice between Europe and Russia on the Ukrainian people has pushed society toward a schism, a painful internal confrontation,” Putin said.
“In the southeast of the country, blood is flowing. There is a real humanitarian catastrophe, tens of thousands of refugees are forced to seek shelter, including in Russia,” he added.
One of Putin’s top aides also criticized the agreement. “Europe is trying to push Ukraine to sign this agreement by force. ... They organized a military coup in Ukraine, they helped Nazis to come to power. This Nazi government is bombing the largest region in Ukraine,” economic adviser Sergei Glazyev said, according to the BBC.
When asked if he was equating Poroshenko with Nazis, he answered “of course,” the BBC report stated.
About the Author
Raymond Johnston is Editor in Chief of the Prague Post.