EU divided over Ukraine crisis
BRUSSELS / KYIV
German FM Guido Westerwelle. AP photoDutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans sharply criticized EU enlargement chief Stefan Füle, the official in charge of negotiations with Ukraine, who announced on Twitter on Dec. 15 that talks with Ukraine were on hold because Kyiv had failed to give a clear commitment to sign the trade deal.
“I think making policy on the basis of a Twitter notice by Mr. Füle is perhaps not the best way of approaching this issue,” he told reporters. “There was no reason from a Dutch point of view to suspend talks. I believe the best signal we can give Ukraine is simply that the door is still open.”
Füle’s decision reflected growing frustration among EU officials at what they see as the inconsistent position taken by President Viktor Yanukovych, who sometimes appears to be veering toward Brussels and at others toward Moscow.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt accused Yanukovych of “double speak.” “Sometimes he says ... he wants to sign it in the near future. The other day he said he was going to fire those who negotiated the agreement,” he said. Meanwhile, Russia signaled it was about to agree to a loan and gas deal with Ukraine to help Kyiv’s stave off economic chaos and keep it in its former Soviet master’s orbit. An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested credit would be agreed at talks with Yanukovych in Moscow today, and a Ukrainian minister said a deal was likely on lower prices for Russian gas.