EU Welcomes Agreement Between Ukraine's Political Rivals

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union welcomed Sunday's agreement among Ukraine's political leaders to end a crisis that had threatened to spiral into violence.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana

«Today I congratulate the leaders of Ukraine, both in government and in the opposition, for their show of commitment to democracy,» said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. «This negotiated compromise makes everyone a winner.»

In a statement, Solana said he looked forward to Ukraine's parliament passing legislation this week to implement the agreement between President Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, which calls for early parliamentary elections to held in September.

Solana expressed hope that the agreement would allow Ukraine to turn to reforms that would draw it closer to the EU.

«Now is the time for everyone in Ukraine to focus on implementing the necessary reforms,» he said «The European Union is very committed to this partnership, the quality of which depends on the quality of Ukraine's democracy and reforms.»

The German government, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, said it would maintain close ties with all sides in Ukraine in an effort to help implement the agreement.

It urged «all involved to help ensure the success of the compromise now achieved by refraining from unilateral measures.»

Ukraine's political standoff has provoked mounting concern in the EU over the stability in a neighbor with 47 million people which is an important transit route for western Europe's oil and gas supplies from Russia and the Caspian region.

The EU in March approved a euro494 million (US$660 million) aid package for Ukraine over the next four years, a significant increase in funding.

However, although the EU has started negotiations on a deeper economic and political partnership with Ukraine, it has rebuffed the former Soviet republic's requests to be considered as a candidate for EU membership.

Source: AP