EU Still Interested To Sign Association Agreement With Kiev

KIEV, Ukraine -- The European Union still would like to sign an agreement of association with Ukraine, although the EU is unhappy with the sentence of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and another criminal case recently initiated against her, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stephan Fule said on Saturday.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stephan Fule.

"No one from the European Union say that we are breaking off all contacts with Ukrainian officials. Our interest in signing an association agreement remains. The contract is important for Ukraine and important for the EU," Fule said in an interview to Svoboda radio station in Ukraine.

"However, there are certain conditions the EU and its member countries consider essential in order that we could make this last step in signing the agreement."

In mid-October, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of abusing her power in the signing of a 2009 gas deal with Russia that Ukraine seeks to review.

Ukraine's security forces also filed a new criminal case surrounding a $405-million debt her former company owed to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The EU and the United States have described the case as politically motivated, and Moscow said it had a "clear anti-Russian subtext."

A week after Tymoshenko's sentence was announced, the EU has put on hold the visit by Ukraine's President Victor Yanukovych to Brussels to discuss outstanding details of an association agreement with Europe.

However, this Thursday, the sides succeeded to agree trading terms of the agreement providing a free trade zone between Kiev and the EU.

Fule said Tymoshenko's case was the last obstacle in signing the agreement.

"We have been discussing these conditions for a long time and talking about it very straightly. We also hear about it from the opposite side and I personally present at talks with the leaders of Ukraine, when we were assured that the situation is to be resolved."

"However, instead of the situation was resolved, we are witnessing the sentence of former prime minister Tymoshenko. And then we learn about one more criminal case initiated against her. Of course, it disappointed us," said Fule.

Source: RIA Novosti