29 August, 2013 13:17 ▪
Trade Conflict: Europe grows more sympathetic about Ukraine
On August 28, the EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs held a special meeting focused on Syria and Egypt, and the trade conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
European MPs condemned Russia’s actions from the very beginning of the conflict, describing them as infringement of Ukraine’s sovereign right to a geopolitical choice. Based on this meeting, the European Parliament is likely to adopt a separate resolution on Ukrainian-Russian relations at its next session.
“This is the first time we encounter this reaction from a third party in our entire experience of signing association agreements,” said Gunnar Wiegand, representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the main reporter on the issue (the Russian party was not invited to the committee meeting).Wiegand quoted the latest statements by Vladimir Putin and his advisor Sergey Glazyev where they threatened Ukraine with tighter conditions unless Ukraine stopped its movement to the EU. Also, Wiegand noted that Europe is as interested in stopping any trade conflicts as Ukraine is. Committee Chairman Elmar Brok expressed the opinion that was keynote of many speeches that followed: Ukrainian politics should be defined in Kyiv, not in Moscow or even Brussels. S&D’s Marek Siwiec said that Moscow threatens the entire Ukrainian people, not just Ukrainian oligarchs with its actions, while the Greens’ Rebecca Harms noted that Russia’s sanctions are in conflict with the WTO rules.
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However, the Ukrainian government should not expect that, because of the Russian pressure on Ukraine, Brussels will turn a blind eye to Kyiv’s failure to fulfill its commitments (although it looks like Europe has grown more sympathetic of Ukraine as a “victim” of its aggressive neighbour). After Štefan Füle met with Andriy Kliuyev, Chair of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, yesterday, he said that cancelation of any requirements or criteria before Ukraine signs the Association Agreement, including the solution of the selective justice problem (the release of Yulia Tymoshenko), is not an option.
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Arseniy Yatseniuk and Vitaliy Klitschko (Oleh Tyahnybok was not at the meeting for some reason) mentioned Tymoshenko at the committee meeting in Brussels as well. Overall, they did not say anything they hadn’t said in Ukraine earlier: Ukraine’s only geopolitical choice is that of Europe and the current Ukrainian government is primarily responsible for any progress on this way.
In Brussels, Batkivshchyna’s leader won the unofficial image competition with that of UDAR. Klitschko decided to deliver his speech in German but failed to impress European MPs as he slowly read the speech from a sheet of paper with pauses and a bad accent. Yatseniuk spoke fluent English, had no papers to help him and looked more confident. He did not put on the headphones when Klitschko spoke although he does not speak German.
Overall, opposition members in Brussels left their internal conflicts at home and spoke in unison with Ukraine’s Ambassador to the EU, Kostiantyn Yeliseyev, demonstrating readiness to cooperate for the sake of Ukraine’s European prospects.
News by Milan Lielich
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