EU suspends work on Ukraine accord implementation
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Brussels had told Ukraine that further discussions required a "clear commitment (to) sign (but) Work on hold, had no answer," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said. REUTERS PhotoThe EU said Sunday it was suspending work on how to implement an Association Agreement with Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovych failed to make a clear commitment to signing the deal he ditched late last month.
Brussels had told Ukraine that further discussions required a "clear commitment (to) sign (but) Work on hold, had no answer," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a tweeted message.
"Ukraine: Words and deeds of President and government regarding #AssocAgreement further and further apart," Fuele said. "Their arguments have no grounds in reality," he added.
Fuele made his comments as at least 200,000 pro-EU demonstrators began another mass rally in Kiev to press Yanukovych to sign the accord.
Yanukovych is under intense pressure to decide whether to sign up with the West or to join a Russian-led Customs Union bringing together several other former Soviet states.
He is set to travel to Moscow on Tuesday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The European Union has repeatedly made clear that the Association Agreement itself remains on the table but that its terms cannot be renegotiated.
At the same time, it has suggested it could help Kiev in its implementation, especially by working with the International Monetary Fund to get much-needed financial assistance.
Last week, Fuele told visiting Ukraine Deputy Premier Serhiy Arbuzov that once there was a firm commitment from Ukraine to sign the pact, the EU would help prepare a "roadmap" for its implementation.
This would include talks to "examine in depth all issues related to the implementation of the agreement".
In addition, the EU could "facilitate and continue supporting Ukraine and its endeavour ... to sign an agreement with the IMF," Fuele said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had said Thursday after talks with Yanukovych that the president told her he would sign the EU pact.
With Ukraine's economy struggling, Ukraine Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Wednesday said Kiev would like to secure a 20-billion-euro ($27.5-billion) loan from the EU before signing.
Brussels immediately dismissed the idea of such a loan, saying the EU would not get involved in a bidding war over Ukraine's future.