Thank you Donald.
I am very glad that we can hold this meeting before the end of this year. It will give us the opportunity to exchange Christmas greetings, but also to discuss a number of very important matters.
The European Commission stands by Ukraine as Ukraine continues on the path of reform, and we will continue to support the country so that it can meet its international commitments. And the country is on the way to meeting its international commitments.
As you all know, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the European Union will provisionally enter into force on the 1st of January 2016. This is not only a symbol of our closer ties, it is an opportunity for our trade exchanges to increase and foster job creation and economic development.
Together with the Ukrainian authorities we have engaged in trilateral talks with Russia to address concerns that have arisen in the context of the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. Solid progress has been made but not all differences have been solved yet. The three parties have already met more than 20 times, both at technical and political level. The ministerial meeting scheduled to take place here in Brussels on the 21st December is the last chance, the last chance, to find a common understanding. All parties should come to the table in the spirit of finding mutually acceptable solutions within the given constraints: the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area will enter into force on 1 January next year and cannot be amended - neither directly nor indirectly. The Commission remains fully engaged in the talks and will play its role.
Let me reiterate what the goal of these talks is: to talk to one another, to engage in a constructive way in order to find pragmatic solutions. That is why any threats or retaliatory measures contradict the mandate, objective and spirit of these talks.
If our economic relations are to move forward, then Ukraine will need to stay on the path of reform, and this is what we will discuss today with our friend President Poroshenko.
The European Union and Ukraine have a shared interest in visa liberalisation: making it easier for our citizens to travel to each other's countries. If Ukraine stands by the commitments made, the Commission will do exactly the same.
I am glad to say that Ukraine has made tremendous progress in that area. For instance, in the fight against corruption an important step was taken with the appointment a few weeks ago of a specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor.
That is why we are swimming, moving in the right direction. There are remaining difficulties. We will solve them tonight. Thank you.