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Tusk cements EU-Ukraine partnership, urges unity

13 July 2017, 20:56 CET
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Tusk cements EU-Ukraine partnership, urges unity

Tusk - Porochenko - Juncker - Photo EC

(KIEV) - The EU cemented its partnership with Ukraine at a summit Thursday, as Council president Donald Tusk urged the country to keep 'your unity at any cost, and avoid like the plague internal conflicts.'

The summit, attended by Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko, as well as Mr Tusk and Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, welcomed completion of the ratification of the association agreement and the recent entry into force of visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens, both of which are seen as fundamental steps towards reinforcing the EU-Ukraine partnership.

"This Summit is a good moment to celebrate the strong and deepening friendship between the European Union and Ukraine," said Mr Tusk.

Leaders discussed:

  • the importance of pursuing an ambitious reform process, especially in the fight against corruption
  • the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, including the implementation of the Minsk agreements
  • ways to maximise the benefits/potential of the EU-Ukraine association agreement

All EU countries have now ratified the association agreement, including the deep and comprehensive free trade area. The agreement will enter into force on 1 September 2017.

Most of the association agreement is already operational. Many political and sectoral parts of the agreement have been provisionally applied since 1 September 2014, while its trade part, the deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA), has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2016. Trade between the EU and Ukraine continued to grow over this period of time and the EU has reinforced its position as Ukraine's primary partner. Trade between the two grew by almost 30% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Regarding crisis and conflict in Ukraine, the EU reiterated its support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Leaders called for full implementation of the Minsk agreements and underlined Russia's specific responsibility in implementing the agreements.

As there had been no progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, EU leaders gathered at the June summit in Brussels decided to prolong economic sanctions against certain sectors of the Russian economy.

"And today, the EU has again made clear that we stand steadfastly behind Ukraine against Russia's aggression and attempts to subvert your independence", said President Donald Tusk after the summit.

In addition, the Council had recently extended the sanctions by one year in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia. At the EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev, the EU has reiterated its commitment to its non-recognition policy.

EU leaders called on Ukraine to continue the implementation of its reforms, especially measures against corruption.

Leaders highlighted the concrete results achieved with EU support programmes.They stressed the importance of implementing all the policy measures attached to disbursement of the third tranche of the programme by the end of the year.

They also discussed priorities for EU assistance in 2017, which include support to public finance management, eastern Ukraine regions and energy efficiency, and technical assistance in support of key reforms and the implementation of the association agreement.

Finally, leaders welcomed the recent entry into force of the EU visa-free regime for Ukrainians.

As of 11 June 2017, all Ukrainian citizens with a biometric passport can travel to the EU for up to 90 days for business, tourist or family purposes without visa.

EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

Overview of EU restrictive measures in response to the crisis in Ukraine

Factsheet: EU-Ukraine relations (EEAS website)

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