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  • #345965

    Anonymous

    Ukraine has suspended preparations for a trade deal with the EU.

    A government statement said the decision had been taken to protect Ukraine's "national security".Hours earlier MPs rejected a bill that would have allowed jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country – which the EU had demanded as a condition for the deal to proceed.Ukraine had come under intense pressure from Russia not to sign the historic EU deal at a summit next week. The Ukrainian government said on Thursday that it was instead looking into setting up a joint commission to promote ties between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union.

    Russia wants Ukraine to join its own customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which it sees as a prototype rival to the European Union. Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych was later quoted by AFP as saying Ukraine "will work further on this path, this path to EU integration", although it is not clear how this tallies with the suspension of preparations for the deal.

    Shouts of 'shame' On Thursday MPs threw out six drafts of the bill which would have allowed Tymoshenko to travel abroad for medical treatment. The EU is sending a top envoy to Kiev. Stefan Fuele, European commissioner for enlargement, is travelling to the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, for the second time this week. The bill failed to pass after MPs from President Viktor Yanukovych's ruling Regions Party refused to cast their votes on any of the six proposed drafts. The drafts all fell short of the 226 votes needed.

    "It is President Viktor Yanukovych who is personally blocking Ukraine's movement toward the European Union," Arseniy Yatsenyuk, parliamentary leader of Tymoshenko's opposition Fatherland group, told parliament after the vote failed. Opposition MPs responded by shouting "shame" as the bill was thrown out. The legislation proposed that convicts be allowed medical treatment abroad.

    Back pain

    Tymoshenko, 52, is serving seven years in jail after a controversial conviction on charges of abuse of power over a gas deal with Russia.The EU has made clear it believes the judicial campaign against Tymoshenko has been politically motivated. She has been urging the authorities to transfer her to a German hospital so that doctors there can treat her chronic back pain. The EU is demanding her release as one of the conditions for signing an EU-Ukraine trade and partnership agreement in Vilnius, Lithuania, which starts on 28 November. It has been attempting to build closer relations with neighbours that were once part of the Soviet Union, and is expected to initial but not yet formally sign association agreements with Georgia and Moldova.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25032275

    #423816

    Anonymous

    Is this a good or bad decision?  What do you think fellow Slavs? All opinions are welcomed.

    #423817

    Anonymous

    It depends…. EU would definitely help out with sorting out some mess left after the USSR, just like it did in Poland.

    #423818

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    It depends…. EU would definitely help out with sorting out some mess left after the USSR, just like it did in Poland.

    I don't know much about the transition in Poland.  We're exposed to some propaganda which states that  shock therapy economic policy was damaging to many former eastern block countries. There's a recent report  prepared in Hungary on that economic policy outlining the problems.  Also, we're told many states assets were privatised by western coroprations at a fraction of the market price.  We're also seeing the Baltic states experiencing some economic problems.  Agriculture and production sectors were abondoned leaving many people without jobs, who are leaving the countries en masses in search of employment. Also, the budgets of these smaller countries depend on EU donations.

    Ukraine has already privatised her state assets following the path lof Russia in which many criminal structures obtained state assets. Also, many Ukrainian economists complained after Ukraine entered the WTO stating Ukraine didn't become competitive on the world market, while removed taxes and tariffs on cheap imports which hurt local businesses.

    I may sound critical but at the end results speak for themselves. Ukraine has lower living standards than most eastern European countries with many people leaving the country in search of employment. The agricultural western  Ukraine has been hit by unemployment the hardest.

    #423819

    Anonymous

    I'm not surprised, really. This decision simply proves that Ukraine is still under the Russian boot, still beholden to the Kremlin. To negotiate this long with the EU in apparent bad faith will only reinforce the opinion of many that Ukraine is not to be take seriously. Sad, very sad.

    #423820

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    I'm not surprised, really. This decision simply proves that Ukraine is still under the Russian boot, still beholden to the Kremlin. To negotiate this long with the EU in apparent bad faith will only reinforce the opinion of many that Ukraine is not to be take seriously. Sad, very sad.

    A pre-condition for signing the EU association agreement  was the release of Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko is far  from being an innocent party. Ukrainians who supported her on Maidan in Kyiv turned against her in the next election.

    Pro-western ex-president Victor Yushenko stated that Y. Tymoshenko signed a contract incurring  a penalty of 360% if Ukraine doesn't buy 42 billion of cubic metres annually. In the first 3 years Ukraine paid $12 billions in penalties to Gazprom. Once the gas price risen to $530 per cubic metre , the penalty increased to $17 billions per year. http://lb.ua/news/2013/02/26/190688_yushchenko.html

    There's something very wrong about the contract she signed which attracted a lot attention in media. 

    Some believe she was jailed because she received a kick-back ( a form of bribe popular in Russia and Ukraine) from Gazprom, while other believe she was jailed because she received a kick-back and didn't share it with appropriate people in the government. lol. She's a very rich woman.

    The west is against a selective jailing of politicians in Ukraine from what I gathered.  Also, she was a pro-western politician,  so it is  important for the west to show the world they don't neglect politicians who trusted them.

    She may be soon forgotten the same way as Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia. Maybe she will not.  My opinion – the release of Y. Tymoshenko should not have a pre-condition for signing the association agreement in first place.

    #423821

    Anonymous
    Quote:

    A pre-condition for signing the EU association agreement  was the release of Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko is far  from being an innocent party. Ukrainians who supported her on Maidan in Kyiv turned against her in the next election.

    Pro-western ex-president Victor Yushenko stated that Y. Tymoshenko signed a contract incurring  a penalty of 360% if Ukraine doesn't buy 42 billion of cubic metres annually. In the first 3 years Ukraine paid $12 billions in penalties to Gazprom. Once the gas price risen to $530 per cubic metre , the penalty increased to $17 billions per year. http://lb.ua/news/2013/02/26/190688_yushchenko.html

    There's something very wrong about the contract she signed which attracted a lot attention in media.

    Some believe she was jailed because she received a kick-back ( a form of bribe popular in Russia and Ukraine) from Gazprom, while other believe she was jailed because she received a kick-back and didn't share it with appropriate people in the government. lol. She's a very rich woman.

    The west is against a selective jailing of politicians in Ukraine from what I gathered.  Also, she was a pro-western politician,  so it is  important for the west to show the world they don't neglect politicians who trusted them.

    She may be soon forgotten the same way as Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia. Maybe she will not.  My opinion – the release of Y. Tymoshenko should not have a pre-condition for signing the association agreement in first place.

    This was about more than Yulia. The release of Yulia was simply the EU testing Ukraine in the human rights arena.  Having Yulia in jail looks bad, and now it simply looks petty and abusive. If every politician in Ukraine who took bribes and kickbacks were in jail, there would be no one left to govern! Yulia may be rich, but her money doesn't seem to be helping her very much.  Yulia is in jail because of politics. Not because of a crime. Not saying she didn't commit a crime, but that's not why she is imprisoned. EU and the West don't imprison people because they don't like their politics, or to get a political enemy out of the way.

    I can say the Ukrainian diaspora is very upset at the moment from what I'm reading. Very disappointed.

    #423822

    Anonymous

    So, EU wants rule of law but at the time demands from governmet to change court decisions. What a joke!

    #423823

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    So, EU wants rule of law but at the time demands from governmet to change court decisions. What a joke!

    Not exactly, Fajrendajs. EU did not request that Yulia's court conviction be overturned, they asked simply that she be released for medical treatment in Germany for her back condition.  Ukraine parliament voted that convicts cannot be transported out of country for medical care, period, rather than just making a decision on Yulia's unique case.

    #423824

    Anonymous

    I'm thinking is this a good time to join the EU for any country?  There is a deep recession and high unemployment.  Would membership lead to the forced opening of telecommunications and banking sectors?  I think it might be very easy to say that it's due to Russian pressure, there are always more than one issue in any economic decision.  I would also remember that the USA uses economic leverage to get countries to comply with our wishes.  I also think that an economically well off Ukraine is important for both the Russians and the rest of Europe. 

    #423825

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    I'm thinking is this a good time to join the EU for any country?  There is a deep recession and high unemployment.  Would membership lead to the forced opening of telecommunications and banking sectors?  I think it might be very easy to say that it's due to Russian pressure, there are always more than one issue in any economic decision.  I would also remember that the USA uses economic leverage to get countries to comply with our wishes.  I also think that an economically well off Ukraine is important for both the Russians and the rest of Europe.

    Don't worry, this decision emanates from Russian pressure/threat of sanctions, and nothing more.  :)  Ukraine has been aligned with Russia, in one form or another, for centuries. This relationship has contributed only minimally to strengthening the economic fortunes of Ukraine. I don't expect any huge economic benefits from Ukraine joining Russia's Customs Union. Maybe just the status quo, as usual. Also, the EU was not offering Ukraine full EU membership. Ukraine has a long way to go to meet EU standards. The deal on the table in Vilnius was only an EU Association Agreement.

    What exactly is an Association Agreement?

    An Association Agreement is the EU's main instrument to bring the countries in the Eastern Partnership closer to EU standards and norms. It comprises four general chapters: Common Foreign and Security Policy; Justice and Home Affairs; the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA); and a fourth chapter covering a range of issues including the environment, science, transportation, and education.

    The difference between the association agreements Eastern Partnership countries are negotiating and others that the EU has struck with third countries is the DCFTA. In signing this, Eastern Partnership members will be committing themselves to adopting specific pieces of EU legislation in trade, consumer protection, and environmental regulation. Countries that sign a DCFTA must adopt some 350 EU laws within a ten-year timeframe.

    Signatories of a DCFTA will also have access to the EU's 500 million consumers and a market with a combined economy of 12.9 trillion euros. By way of comparison, the rival Russian-led union Customs Union has just 170 million consumers and a combined economy of 1.4 trillion euros.

    New York Times
    November 22, 2013
    Ukraine Blames I.M.F. for Collapse of Accord With European Union
    By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

    MOSCOW — Prime Minister Mykola Azarov of Ukraine told enraged opposition lawmakers on Friday that the government’s decision to walk away from far-reaching political and free trade agreements with the European Union was prompted by excessively harsh terms demanded by the International Monetary Fund in a debt refinancing plan.

    In response to the decision to abandon the accords with Europe, which were due to be signed next week at a major conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, opposition leaders called for the resignation of the Ukrainian government and for the impeachment of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

    Kiev was pulsing with emotion that officials and commentators said they had not experienced since the Orange Revolution of 2004. On Thursday night, more than 1,000 people demonstrated against the government’s decision, waving European Union flags, and chanting “Ukraine is Europe!”

    Another rally was scheduled for Friday evening and the country’s jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians to take to the streets. “I am calling on all people to react to this as they would to a coup d’etat — that is, get out on the streets." Ms. Tymoshenko said in a statement that was read by her lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, in the city of Kharkiv, where she is hospitalized for back problems.

    Two high-level European emissaries, Pat Cox, the former president of the European Parliament, and former President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, visited Ms. Tymoshenko in the hospital on Friday. Mr. Cox and Mr. Kwasniewski were in Kiev on Thursday hoping to see the Parliament approve the last pieces of legislation that the Euorpeans had demanded to move ahead with the politicla and trade agreements, including a bill that would have freed Ms. Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment in Germany.

    It was their 27th visit to the Ukrainian capital, underscoring how much effort Brussels has expended on the Eastern Partnership program.

    The Ukrainian government on Thursday said it was suspending plans to complete the agreements and instead would pursue improved economic relations with a competing trade bloc led by Russia.

    “The I.M.F. position presented in the letter dated November 20 was the last straw,” Mr. Azarov told the Parliament in Kiev, where he appeared on Friday with other government ministers. “This decision is hard but it’s the only one possible in the economic situation in Ukraine,” he said, drawing a roar of jeers and denunciations from opposition lawmakers.

    While Mr. Azarov sought to pin responsibility on the I.M.F., other officials said the decision to back away from the agreements with Europe was the result of fierce pressure by Russia, including threats of trade embargoes and other punitive steps that would have devastated the Ukrainian economy, which is already facing a severe crisis.

    Jovita Neliupsiene, the chief foreign policy adviser to the Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, said on Friday that Mr. Yanukovich had told her boss in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that he could not sign the agreements with Europe because of potential economic damage to eastern Ukraine.

    Mr. Yanukovich’s base of political support is in the mostly Russian-speaking southern and eastern parts of the country, which are also home to a large portion of Ukrainian industry.

    The phone conversation between the two presidents was first reported by the Baltic News Service, a news agency based in Vilnius.

    “Ukraine could not withstand the economic pressure and blackmail,” Ms. Neliupsiene told the news service. “It was threatened with restricted imports of its goods to Russia, particularly from companies in eastern Ukraine, which accommodates the greater share of its industry and employs hundreds of thousands of people.”

    Ms. Neliupsiene said Friday that Mr. Yanukovich had spoken about “the immediate cost Ukraine will face after signing the association agreement.”

    The assertions of Russian strong-arming fit a recent pattern.

    In recent months, Russian officials have taken aggressive steps to prevent Ukraine and other former Soviet republics from moving forward with political and trade accords with Europe.

    Russia has banned imports of numerous products, such as wine from Moldova, imposed new restrictions on goods at border crossings, and issued a series of threats, not only of grave economic consequences but also political fallout.

    Russian officials at various points have suggested that the agreements with Europe were part of secret plots — in the case of Ukraine to remove Mr. Yanukovich from power and in the case of Moldova to facilitate an eventual absorption of the country by Romania. Allies of the Russian government, including Kirill I, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, have issued statements criticizing European society as immoral.

    In September, after a visit with President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow, President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia abruptly announced that he was abandoning talks with Europe and that Armenia would instead join a customs union formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

    Despite the pressure from Moscow, Moldova and Georgia have both said they intend to move forward with the agreements under the European Union’s “Eastern Partnership” program — but they are not as far along in the process as Ukraine.

    Among the conditions Europe had set for signing the accords with Ukraine was a deal to free Ms. Tymoshenko, who is the main political rival of Mr. Yanukovich, and allow her to go to Germany for medical treatment. Ms. Tymoshenko has suffered from chronic back problems.

    The Ukrainian Parliament on Thursday resoundingly defeated six bills that would have dealt with Ms. Tymoshenko’s situation, and it now seems likely that she will remain in prison indefinitely.

    Some European Union member states have suggested that it was a mistake to connect Ms. Tymoshenko’s situation to the agreements with Ukraine because it gave Mr. Yanukovich yet another reason to back away. Mr. Yanukovich is planning to run for re-election in 2015.

    In the end, though, it seems that economic imperatives drove the decision-making. Because of its severe economic problems, Ukraine is expected to soon need a major package of financial assistance. It is still unclear if Mr. Putin’s government has offered such help.

    The decision largely scuttles what had been the European Union’s most important foreign policy initiative: an ambitious effort to draw in former Soviet republics and lock them on a trajectory of changes based on Western political and economic sensibilities. The project, called the Eastern Partnership program, began more than four years ago.

    Ukraine’s decision is a victory for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. He had maneuvered forcefully to derail the plans, which he regarded as a serious threat, an economic version of the West’s effort to build military power by expanding NATO eastward. In September, similar pressure by Russia forced Armenia to abandon its talks with the Europeans.

    European leaders reacted with fury and regret, directed at Kiev and Moscow. “This is a disappointment not just for the E.U. but, we believe, for the people of Ukraine,” Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said in a statement. Calling the pact that Ukraine was walking away from “the most ambitious agreement the E.U. has ever offered to a partner country,” Ms. Ashton suggested the country would suffer financially.

    “It would have provided a unique opportunity to reverse the recent discouraging trend of decreasing foreign investment,” she said, “and would have given momentum” to negotiations for more financial aid from the International Monetary Fund. Ukraine faces a growing economic crisis, and it is widely expected to need a major aid package soon.

    Others were more pointed in blaming Russia. “Ukraine government suddenly bows deeply to the Kremlin,” the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, wrote on Twitter. “Politics of brutal pressure evidently works.”

    In Brussels, Stefan Fule, the European Commission’s senior official responsible for relations with neighboring countries, canceled a trip to Ukraine that he had announced just hours earlier, suggesting that officials saw little hope in reversing the decision. “Hard to overlook in reasoning for today’s decision impact of #Russia’s recent unjustified economic & trade measures,” he wrote on Twitter.

    Ukraine’s announcement came in the form of a decree issued by the cabinet of ministers ordering the government “to suspend” preparations for concluding the agreements with Europe and instead begin planning for new negotiations with the European Union and Russia.

    At virtually the same time, President Yanukovich, who was on a visit to Vienna, issued a statement saying, “Ukraine has been and will continue to pursue the path to European integration.”

    In a move emblematic of Ukraine’s often inscrutable politics, Mr. Yanukovich barely acknowledged the developments in Kiev and, responding to a reporter’s question about the pacts with Europe, said, “Of course, there are difficulties on the path.”

    Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is expected to move forward with the agreements in Vilnius even though Russia has banned imports of Moldovan wine, one of the country’s most important exports, and has threatened other repercussions including an immigration crackdown on more than 100,000 Moldovans working in Russia.

    Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2008 and remains in conflict with Russia over the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is also planning to move forward with the accords. At his inauguration on Sunday, the country’s new president, Giorgi Margvelashvili, said Georgia hoped to join the European Union and NATO.

    It was unclear if the Kremlin had given Mr. Yanukovich any assurances of financial assistance. It seemed probable that Ukraine would face difficulties obtaining additional help from the I.M.F. after backing out of the agreements with Europe.

    Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Brussels, and Alison Smale from Berlin.

    Source

    #423826

    Anonymous

    Just saw this on the NY Times,

    http://www.nytimes.com/chrome/#/Top+News//www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/world/europe/ukraine-blames-imf-for-collapse-of-accord-with-european-union.html

    Now, have no idea if it's true, yet the I.M.F. doesn't have the best reputation.  I always feel that the West and Russia use Ukraine like a wishbone from a chicken. 

    #423827

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Just saw this on the NY Times,

    http://www.nytimes.com/chrome/#/Top+News//www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/world/europe/ukraine-blames-imf-for-collapse-of-accord-with-european-union.html

    Now, have no idea if it's true, yet the I.M.F. doesn't have the best reputation.  I always feel that the West and Russia use Ukraine like a wishbone from a chicken.

    ;D I posted that article earlier above your post.

    #423828

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Ukraine has suspended preparations for a trade deal with the EU.

    Pity native motherland Ukraine……

    #423829

    Anonymous

    I think, that countries like Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, etc
    should stay neutral.  Forget siding with EU or NATO or Russia for the moment.

    Balance between Western Eu and Russia.

    An alliance for those nations would be ideal, while keeping open relations with West and Russia.

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