EU says won't accept Russia 'veto' on ties with east Europe
VILNIUS / KIEV - Agence France-Presse
Moldova's Prime Minister Lurie Leanca, left, shakes hands with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, center, as European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht look on during a signing ceremony at an Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. AP PhotoThe European Union will not accept a Russia "veto" or any other meddling in its ties with other nations, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Friday.
"The times of limited sovereignty are over in Europe," Barroso told a news conference after ex-Soviet state Ukraine turned its back on a major trade and political deal with the EU after economic pressure from Moscow.
Speaking at the same news conference, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy said the 28-nation bloc's offer to sign the landmark deals with Ukraine "is still on the table." Though there was no signing at the two-day summit as had been hoped, "we hope that sooner or later Ukraine will be ready," he said.
"We will not give in to external pressure, not the least from Russia." Barroso stressed that "all stand to gain. Our neighbours and their neighbours." "It is not against someone. Because I do not believe someone should be against democracy, prosperity, stability."
Georgia, Moldova agree deals with EU, Ukraine refuses: EU
The European Union on Friday initialled association agreements with Georgia and Moldova but failed to draw Ukraine closer in its drive to boost ties with six ex-Soviet states on its eastern flank.
Ukraine, the largest of the six, had already initialled a landmark political and trade deal with the EU but did not go ahead with signing an agreement after coming under pressure from Moscow.
The political and trade agreements with the EU initialled by Georgia and Moldova mark the end of negotiations to strengthen mutual ties, but will still need to be officially signed to come into effect, hopefully within the next year.
Ukraine wants EU pact 'in near future': Yanukovych
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told an EU summit on Friday that Kiev wanted to sign a historic pact with the bloc "in the near future" but needed economic and financial aid.
"I confirm Ukraine's intention to sign the Association Agreement in the near future," Yanukovych told EU chiefs at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.
"The forced pause in the agreement's signature process does not mean a halt in euro-integration reforms that Ukraine so urgently needs," he said in comments released by his office.
"We are intent on pressing ahead with this work." "For us, the European choice remains a strategic direction of Ukraine's further... development." But Yanukovych stressed that Kiev needed economic and financial support from Brussels before it could sign a political and free trade deal with the 28-nation bloc.
"We need our European colleagues to take decisive steps toward Ukraine when it comes to the development and realisation of a programme of financial and economic aid," he said.
Such measures would include the resumption of aid from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as EU help in modernising Ukraine's Soviet-era natural gas pipeline infrastructure, he said.
The European Union should also lift trade restrictions on certain Ukrainian export items, the Ukrainian president added without elaborating.