Ukraine and the EU have agreed to prepare a road map for the implementation of the trade and association agreement, said EU commissioner Stefan Fuele. The negotiations will take place without the participation of Russia, he added as quoted by RIA Novosti.
“We’ve agreed today that based on the Ukraine’s adherence to signing the association agreement,” Fuele said after meeting a Ukrainian delegation in Brussels.
“We will first prepare a road map for implementing the association agreement. Secondly, we will promote and support Ukraine in creating necessary conditions for coming to an agreement with the IMF. Thirdly, we will use the existing bilateral consultations for studying all the issues connected with the implementation of the agreement on association and free trade zone.”
The key EU negotiator has told Ukrainian officials that the bloc is ready to provide more financial aid to their country, if it agrees to sign a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU. Fuele said the EU has “made a clear commitment to match in our financial support the level of ambitions of our Ukrainian partners.'”
This was confirmed by the Ukrainian side.
"Ukraine will soon sign this association agreement with the European Union, taking into account the national strategic interests," Ukraine's first deputy prime minister Sergey Arbuzov said after talks with Fuele in Belgium.
However, he provided no date or deadline for implementing the deal. But, according to sources, the EU is planning to sign the agreement with Ukraine during the bilateral summit in 2014, which could take place as early as spring.
“EU officials hope that the agreement can be signed at the annual EU-Ukraine summit in 2014,” RIA-Novosti news agency reported citing a diplomat in Brussels.
Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine’s premier, Nikolay Azarov, said the country wants to change the conditions for the implementation of the agreement on trade union with the EU, not the text of the agreement.
Unrest swept the country’s capital Kiev following the unexpected announcement over two weeks ago that the Ukrainian leadership wasn’t going to sign the agreement with the EU.
Around 5,000 people were rallying on the capital’s Independence Square also dubbed Maidan as the crucial announcement was made. The city center became filled with barricades made of snow bags, some up to 3 meters high, which protesters poured water on to create a kind of ice wall.
The demonstrators were burning fires across the city center and have blocked access to the square with advertisement banners and construction materials.
Earlier on Wednesday, Washington threatened sanctions against Kiev over its dealing with the protesters.
"All policy options, including sanctions, are on the table, in our view, but obviously that still is being evaluated," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. However, she declined to explain exactly which kind of sanctions are under consideration.
The pro-EU demonstrations in Kiev have been marked by western politicians’ regular visits to the protesters’ camp, and their emotional condemnations of Ukraine’s authorities. This prompted Russia's reproach with MPs voicing concern over the “interference” of foreign officials in the neighbor’s internal affairs. Open calls by some western politicians to oppose the decisions of a legally elected government, which “aggravated” the situation, the lawmakers said.