IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Ukraine and EU sign Association Agreement: four months after ‘euromaidan’ started
Ukraine and the EU today signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement between them, in a gesture that “recognises the aspirations of the people of Ukraine to live in a country governed by values, by democracy and the rule of law”, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said ahead of the signing ceremony in Brussels.
“This gesture symbolises the importance that both sides attach to this relationship, and our joint will to take it further,” Van Rompuy said, sitting next to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
He said the refusal in November to sign the Association Agreement had “created a popular uprising, a political and cultural shift”, and paid tribute to those who had died during the protests. “The European Union is by this new Ukraine's side,” he insisted.
Only the Agreement's political provisions were signed today, but “Today is but the opening act,” said Van Rompuy: “We expect to soon sign the Agreement's remaining parts, not least the economic provisions – together with the political ones they form a single instrument.”
The European Council President said the EU stood ready to help restore macro-economic stability in the country and to remove custom duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU for a while, so as to advance some of the full Agreement's trade benefits.
“All this will help Ukraine on its path of economic and social reform. It is not an easy road, certainly not in this time of turmoil and tensions. But along this road the Association Agreement can serve as a compass. May it support and strengthen the political resolve of the leaders and citizens who want to build a democratic and inclusive Ukraine, protecting all groups and minorities, living in peace with its neighbours.” (EU Neighbourhood Info)