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Brussels, 12 December 2013
EU-Ukraine: Association Agreement is an offer to the country and its people
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with Ukrainian deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov in Brussels today to discuss ways towards the signature and implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The results of the meeting and next steps were summarised by Commissioner Füle at the press conference where he said:
‘We had a very frank and very open meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Arbuzov, who came together with his colleagues: the ministers of economy, budget and the National Bank Governor.
Before that, I had also a videoconference with the leaders of the opposition in Kiev. Our message to both sides is the same - and was also at the heart of Catherine Ashton's visit to Ukraine this week. The message is:
- the Association Agreement, including DCFTA, is our offer to Ukraine and its people. This offer is still on the table. The European Union remains ready to sign it, as soon as Ukrainian authorities are ready, and prove their commitment by deeds.
All our current activities are focused on bringing us closer to the signature and implementation of the Association Agreement. Because this agreement:
- provides a long term basis for our relations;
- is a blueprint for modernisation of Ukrainian economy and framework for some of the investments that Ukraine will have to make if it is serious about its modernisation and a prosperous future,
- offers our support for all of this, support to unlock the immense potential of Ukraine,
- and in the current context: the signature, and the process leading to it, should be also part of the political solution to the political crisis in Ukraine. The process needs to be inclusive and transparent. We called on our Ukrainian partners to ensure also participation of the civil society in this endeavour.
The other backdrop for our efforts is the looming financial crisis in Ukraine. We need to help Ukraine to restore rapidly the confidence not only of its citizens, but also that of international investors and creditors, as a stable and predictable economy with promising growth prospects.
It is important that Ukraine tackles the immediate financial needs in a transparent manner, notably through close cooperation with institutions such as the IMF – as any other arrangement would bring unclear or under-the-table conditions and would not create either the necessary confidence or growth.
Very helpful in this context are the clear words by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde when she declared, in Brussels yesterday, that the IMF was "ready to resume negotiations with Ukraine at any time, if Ukraine wants to help its economy going in the right direction".
There is also no better signal to send to the citizens who continue to demonstrate peacefully for a secure and prosperous future for them and their children, than a rapid signature of the Association Agreement, with DCFTA.
For this purpose, we have agreed today that on a basis of a clear commitment of Ukraine to sign the Association Agreement we will:
(1) prepare a roadmap for implementation of the AA/DCFTA
(2) facilitate and continue supporting Ukraine in its endeavours to create the necessary conditions conducive to reaching an arrangement with the IMF
(3) use the existing bilateral consultation mechanisms, which will examine swiftly in depth all issues related to the implementation of the AA/DCFTA.
This work would include arriving at a common understanding on the expected benefits and investments. We have heard recently grossly exaggerated speculations about the alleged cost of Ukraine's modernisation linked to the AA. Frankly, many of the figures flying around are neither based on facts nor justified.
It is important to take a sober look at short and long-term benefits and not see related investments that would create a modern, competitive Ukrainian economy, as a cost. We want to reach full transparency between us with a common understanding on data, and to facilitate the future implementation of the AA/DCFTA.
Given the rapidly deteriorating economic and political situation in the country, the faster Ukraine clarifies its intentions, the faster we can both: start and finish our work.
We stand ready to help and support Ukraine in its modernisation on the basis of the Association Agreement, including through topping up IMF loans with macro-financial assistance; by stepping up the European Union's financial assistance programmes to help Ukraine implement the Agreement, when signed, and helping to bring on board other international partners.
We will be staying in close contact with the deputy :Prime Minister Arbuzov on these issues.’