Euphoria about EU-Ukraine Association Agreement overshadowed by concessions to Russian and oligarch pressure

Petro Poroshenko
AP/Scanpix

Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, director of the International Relations and Political Science Institute of Vilnius University, told BNS that euphoria caused by the ratification of the association agreement in Ukraine and the European Parliament (EP) has to do with the symbolic significance of the deal.

However, the part of the agreement about free trade that stipulates lower custom fees on EU production imports was postponed, which shows “involvement of a third country” in the process, said the political scientist.

“The pressure from Russia is likely to have been among the significant factors; however, we cannot rule out contribution of the unwillingness of Ukraine’s domestic economic interest groups to open up the country’s market to EU competition,” Vilpišauskas added.

He noted that Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is currently forced to manoeuvre among interest groups, i.e., to keep the common Ukrainian direction towards the West, at the same time making concessions to those “who can ruin the process”.

Lithuania’s Ambassador to the United States Žygimantas Pavilionis said on his Facebook account that Ukrainians were “giving in”, which was a “very bad sign”.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is successful not only in destroying the Ukrainian land in the East, but also its Western agenda. It is a bad thing that Ukrainians are giving in, the attempts to balance has repeatedly pushed the country into a no-go in the past,” said the Lithuanian diplomat.

EU Ambassador to Russia Vygaudas Ušackas of Lithuania said at a conference of Lithuanian industrialists that the EU’s move to unilaterally open the market to Ukrainian goods amid Kiev’s decision to postpone the scheme until the end of 2015 “is beneficial for the Ukrainian economy also because Russia will not retaliate and will retain the CIS FTA preferential regime in place for Ukraine”.

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