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Interview: Association agreement with EU very important for Ukraine: expert

(Xinhua)

08:54, March 31, 2012

KIEV, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Friday's initialing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was very important for Ukraine, local political scientist Alexey Garan told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

"It is extremely significant for Ukraine to complete the negotiations, which lasted for several years. Thereby, the association agreement will be ready for signing. It means that Ukraine has hope for a free trade area and a vista for abolishing the visa regime for its citizens," Garan, who is also a professor of political science at the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, said.

However, he said initialing the deal, launched in March 2007, was just a technical step, which meant the text of the treaty was agreed upon.

"Initialing of the association agreement does not mean that Europe appreciates the political situation in Ukraine. This means that neither Ukraine, nor the EU could find any pretexts to change the document. The sides should ratify and sign the deal to give it practical meaning," Garan said.

Speaking about possible terms of signing the document, the experts said he doubted it would happen before Ukraine's parliamentary elections in October.

"The process of signing the deal can be accelerated only if Ukraine will release former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko and give them a chance to take part in the elections,"Garan said.

If the signing happens, Ukraine will face significant changes, the expert said.

"This agreement opens up colossal opportunities for Ukraine. The deal offers cooperation with the countries with combined GDP of nearly 20 trillion U.S. dollars. In addition, Ukraine will come a step closer to Europe politically, if the EU members sign the document."

Garan, who called the possible introduction of Europe's visa-free regime for Ukrainians a "significant advantage for the economy," also said the agreement would also have some negative aspects.

"When partners remove any trade barriers, there are always some negatives. Some Ukrainian industries may lose, because European manufacturers will flood the Ukrainian market with their goods. These products will compete with Ukrainian products," Garan said.

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