Friday, September 20, 2013

Ukrainians Are Freeloaders, Says Russian

KIEV, Ukraine -- A diplomatic scandal began brewing on Thursday after a Russian official described Ukraine as “dependent” and a “freeloader” for its push to sign free trade and political association agreements with the European Union.


Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that should Kiev sign the agreements, Moscow will block its imports from Ukraine in order to protect its territory from cheaper and more quality products that may flood the market after the agreements come in force. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry summoned a Russian diplomat on Thursday to express disappointment with recent remarks by Ilya Rubtsov, the head of the CIS department at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Rubtsov said Ukraine’s push towards the agreement with the EU and only partial acceptance of the Moscow-led Customs Union shows the country has been seeking to benefit from both without making any commitments.

"It's a kind of dependency and a freeloader mode," Rubtsov said, Unian reported.

“You have to understand that the process of integration is a process of compromise. If you want to get something, you have to give something in return.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said that the remark was “incompetent” and expressed concerns that the comment reflected an increasingly general negative mood in the Russian media.

"The Foreign Ministry is disappointed with incompetent comments by Russian officials on the state and prospects of relations between Ukraine and Russia,” the ministry said in the statement.

The Russian diplomat sought to distance Rubtsov’s remark with the position of the Russian foreign ministry.

The diplomat said that "a statement made by an ordinary employee at the Foreign Ministry does not have an official weight," according to the statement from the Ukrainian foreign ministry.

The diplomat said Rutsov’s remark was not in line with “diplomatic language.” Ukraine now expects that Russia’s Foreign Ministry will officially react to the scandal.

"We expect that development of peer relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between [Ukraine and the Customs Union] that would meet the spirit of the strategic partnership between our two countries," the ministry said.

"Ukraine does not oppose cooperation between its European policy and relations with the Eurasian community," the ministry said.

Ukraine has been seeking to sign the political association and free trade agreements with the EU at a summit in Vilnius in November.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that should Kiev sign the agreements, Moscow will block its imports from Ukraine in order to protect its territory from cheaper and more quality products that may flood the market after the agreements come in force.

Russia has been seeking to step up efforts of trying to disrupt the agreements and the planned appointment of a Russian hardliner may play a role.

Vladislav Surkov, a Russian official who is believed to have designed Russia’s anti-Western foreign policy course and contributed to reducing democracy, will soon advise Putin on relations with Ukraine, a Russian newspaper recently reported. 

Surkov, who has a notorious image in Russia for launching a crackdown on opposition parties and reducing freedom of speech, has overseen a pro-Putin youth movement that had been frequently involved in provocations.

President Viktor Yanukovych said earlier this month that Ukraine should continue its pro-European course and sign the agreements.

The Ukrainian government on Wednesday formally gave its approval for landmark political and trade agreements to be signed with the EU despite Russia’s mounting pressure to avert the deals.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the agreements will be “life-changing” for Ukraine, providing “for consistent progress towards the European quality of life." 

Source: Ukrainian Journal

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