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José Manuel Dur ã o Barroso
P resident of the European Commission
Opening statement of President Barroso at the EU-Ukraine Summit
Kiev, 4 December 2009
First of all I would like to re-iterate what President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Reinfeldt have just said. We have indeed made good progress today. This was a successful EU-Ukraine Summit .
I would like to underline a couple of issues. We have discussed the serious financial and economic crisis which has struck us all and Ukraine has been severely affected. We think that the way forward is clear: economic reform and free trade is crucial to ensuring a sustainable economic recovery. Ukraine’s growing integration into the world economy and the international trading system is key to stabilising the economy.
It is clear that the support of the IMF, and you know that it is a significant part of EU's assistance, has played a vital role in stabilising the Ukrainian economy. In order not to delay the continuation of this support it is now important that Ukraine takes the necessary steps to put the IMF programme back on track. This must be the priority in the coming months. It is important that all leaders of Ukraine come together to resolve this issue. We know that Ukraine is now facing political and democratic challenges, but at the same time it is very important that there would be general stability and democracy in Ukraine so that Ukraine could indeed show tangible results to its citizens, including as far as cooperation with the EU and IMF is concerned.
The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement has already been mentioned. The EU is Ukraine’s largest trading partner and will grow further through the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement . Negotiations are advancing well and we hope to be able to conclude negotiations on all aspects in 2010.
President Yushchenko has also mentioned Eastern Partnership. We are starting to see some concrete results. For instance (and Prime Minster Reinfeldt has also referred to it today), there is last week’s launch of the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership which has received pledges from international donors of over €90mio for the period 2010-2014. The European Commission's direct contribution to this partnership amounts to €40 mio. This is indeed a clear demonstration of EU's solidarity with its close partner, Ukraine.
Energy is a key issue. We have expressed our position that we should not be affected by any problems, for instance, by problems which have emerged at the beginning of this year. Part of the solution of the energy issues is of course in modernization of the gas transit system. Our investment conference in March managed to bring together the Commission, the IFIs and Ukraine to discuss and coordinate next steps for modernisation of the gas transit system. I am also pleased that the technical negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the Energy Community Treaty are completed and we hope that on 18 December in Zagreb a positive decision will be made during the Ministerial meeting.
Relations between Ukraine and the EU have grown tremendously in depth and intensity since the first summit 13 years ago. We have a clear view on how our relationship can develop in the next years. We have shown that we stand ready to support Ukraine in all areas. I hope that Ukraine will also implement necessary reforms so that our help would be more efficient.
Ukraine faces a series of challenges not only in the economic sphere. To be able to tackle these head on and develop its full potential for a prosperous country (and we fully share the vision of the great future of your country) we need general democratic stability. We have listened with great interest to what President Yushchenko has said about the upcoming elections and taking into account the fact that Ukraine is a pluralistic society, where there is respect for democracy, we expect the upcoming elections to be free and fair, as it has already been the case in the past . We also expect that after elections we will see serious commitment for reforms and responsible good governance so that Ukraine could further progress in its European aspirations.