EU, Ukraine move closer to association agreement

10:27, November 23, 2010      

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The Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (L), the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (C) and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso attend a press conference after an EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 22, 2010. (Xinhua/Thierry Monasse)

The European Union (EU) and Ukraine have agreed on a visa action plan and signed a protocol to grant Ukraine access to EU programs, European Council President Van Rompuy announced on Monday.

EU and Ukrainian leaders held their annual summit on Monday in Brussels, with the aims of supporting Ukraine's political and economic reform process, continuing the negotiations on the Association Agreement, and launching the action plan on visas. The meeting was also marked by the signature of a protocol on Ukrainian access to EU programs.

"Ukraine is a partner of strategic importance for the EU and our commitment to Ukraine is very strong, and so is our will to strengthen relations," Van Rompuy said at a press conference.

The two sides launched in the day an action plan for Ukraine toward the establishment of a visa free regime for short stay travel.

They also signed an important partnership and cooperation protocol allowing Ukraine to participate in the EU programs.

"These are very important decisions that will bring concrete benefits for Ukrainian citizens," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The two EU leaders welcomed the progress achieved by Kiev in the political and economic sphere, in particular the return to stability and growth, and both encouraged the government to pursue efforts in the reform agenda, including the fight against corruption and improvements in business and investment climate.

"The constitutional reform remains a priority for Ukraine," Van Rompuy added.

"The Association Agreement is not only economical," the EU president asserted, confirming the bloc would support Ukraine with advice and financial resources.

The two parties also discussed the issue of energy with the aim to secure supplies and avoid another crisis. "We will never have a gas crisis like the one we had before," Barroso said.

"I want to say to my European friends that Ukraine will guarantee problem-free transit of gas to Europe," Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stated.

In his speech, the Ukrainian president expressed his willingness to achieve the needed reforms, reach the EU standards and speed up negotiations on the Association Agreement.

"To acquire the EU membership remains a strategic objective for Ukraine," he said at the end of the press conference.

Source: Xinhua


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