Angela Merkel to discuss Ukraine and Eastern Partnership with Vladimir Putin

Angela Merkel to discuss Ukraine and Eastern Partnership with Vladimir Putin
# 23 November 2013 16:15 (UTC +04:00)

Baku – APA. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she wants to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the European Union‘s relations with former Soviet states, after Ukraine halted talks with the EU on a landmark association agreement amid Kremlin pressure, Europe Online Magazine reported.

It is "not the case" that the EU‘s association agreements with six Eastern European countries are "directed against Russia," Merkel said in her weekly podcast.

The EU is offering these countries a gradual path towards economic integration; the easing of travel restrictions; and closer political ties, all in return for reform pledges. It is also offering financial aid.

But Russia has been increasing pressure on the countries ahead of an Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius next week, for example by imposing trade barriers on Ukraine and blocking imports of alcoholic beverages from Moldova.

Moscow is courting them to join a Russia-backed customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, rather than seek closer EU ties.

On Thursday, Kiev announced that it was suspending negotiations on the association and trade deal with the EU, which was supposed to be signed at the November 29 summit. Moldova and Georgia are still set to ink initial association agreements at the talks.

The German chancellor said she wanted to meet with Putin "at the earliest opportunity" to address Moscow‘s concerns.

"Russia is our strategic partner," said Merkel. "The European Union wants to cooperate with Russia."