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4 July, 2013 16:23   ▪  

EESC expert on Eastern Partnership: “We are not planning to marry, we are planning on just dating.”

The Eastern Partnership was a “model of EU integration without membership” but that it needed success stories in order to have a future, said Laurynas Kasčiūnas, an analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre in Vilnius

“We are not planning to marry, we are planning on just dating,” cites EurActiv Mr Kasčiūnas during a panel discussion in Vilnius. “So I think we should not expect too much from Ukraine.”

Ties with Ukraine, the second most populous of the former Soviet republics after Russia, are complicated by pressure from Moscow to join a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern region favours closer relations with Moscow while its western and central areas, including the capital Kyiv, lean more towards the EU.

READ ALSO: The Sabotage of European Integration

If an association agreement is not signed in November, Kasčiūnas said it could be sidelined by the EU election in May 2014 and Ukraine’s own presidential contest a year later.

EurActiv also states that much also hinges on the German federal elections in September. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been more cautious than some other European leaders in her approach to closer relations with Ukraine.

“Yes, I think the key is in German hands, but we should wait until the Bundestag elections. And also the key is in the hands of Christian Democrats in the European Parliament,” Kasčiūnas said.

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