EU fails to convince Ukraine on deal

EU fails to convince Ukraine on deal
# 29 November 2013 03:54 (UTC +04:00)

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite said that at talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanuokovych, EU 'arguments did not reach Ukraine president's ear and mind. So far we see that positions have not changed.'

The Ukrainian leader is to meet both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande before the two-day summit winds up on Friday.

The talks held in the Lithuanian capital on the EU's eastern flank was to have celebrated a five-year drive to cement ties between the 28-country bloc and six former Soviet states in eastern Europe and the Caucasus - Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

But under mounting economic pressure from Moscow, Yanukovych a week before the gathering suspended negotiations to sign an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU.

The decision has sparked the biggest protests in Ukraine in a decade.

Grybauskaite said the EU's dozen newer member states from central and eastern Europe had tried but failed to convince Yanukovych that they had made vital political and economic progress after striking similar deals with the bloc.

In the case of such deals, the EU provides grants and aid to help countries step up to the political and economic standards of the 500-million bloc, the world's largest market.

As pro-EU Ukrainians took to the streets demanding Yanukovych side with western Europe and turn away from Moscow, even his arch-foe, jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, said she would rather stay behind bars than see the country go east.

EU countries for their part had partly conditioned the deal to her being allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.

Her daughter Euguenia said that if Yanukovych 'fails to sign the agreement tomorrow, we cannot predict how people will react'.

Keen to show Moscow's former communist satellites in eastern Europe that the summit matters, almost all EU leaders were attending the two-day talks, including the 'Big Three' of Britain, France and Germany.