EU Says Hopes Ukraine Holds Elections As Planned

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union told Ukraine's prime minister on Monday that it had watched recent domestic upheaval in Ukraine with concern and hoped that elections would take place as planned on Sept. 30.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

"We are concerned to ensure that the instability that was seen in the spring will not be continued in the winter," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she hoped the EU would be able to send an observer mission to the polls and that they would be free and fair.

Steinmeier, who represented the German EU presidency, and Ferrero-Waldner spoke after signing an agreement with Ukraine that will make it easier for some of its citizens to obtain visas for the EU and increase the quantity of Ukrainian steel products allowed into the bloc.

The meeting also discussed progress in negotiations on an enhanced cooperation agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which became a neighbour of the bloc when Poland and Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004 and harbours entry ambitions itself.

Brussels has said entry is not currently a prospect.

The visa deal will make it easier for people such as business people, students, academics, journalists and truck drivers to obtain EU visas and simplify the documentation required.

As part of the agreement, Ukraine will agree to take back citizens of third countries who have entered the union illegally via its territory.

The deal on steel products will increase a quota for EU imports of flat and rolled steel to 1.32 million tonnes from just over 1 million tonnes.

It will be valid until Ukraine joins the World Trade Organisation, after which the trade will be totally liberalised.

Source: Javno