Ukrainian Government Suspends Work On EU Agreement
A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL
The Ukrainian government has suspended work on preparations to sign a key association and free-trade agreement with the European Union at a summit later this month.
A government decree on November 21 said the process was halted in order to fully analyze the impact of the planned agreement on industrial production and trade with Russia.
Russia had been angered by the proposed deal, and has warned Kyiv of trade repercussions.
Also on November 21, the government proposed setting up a three-party trade commission between Ukraine, the European Union, and Russia.
Just hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had suggested setting up a tripartite commission with Ukraine and the EU, but said such a commission could be set up only before any agreement is signed.
The decree has been signed by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
It came just hours after the Ukrainian parliament failed to pass legislation that would have allowed jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to go abroad for medical treatment.
Tymoshenko's release was a key EU demand for signing the agreement.
The parliament failed to pass the legislation after lawmakers from the ruling Party of Regions abstained from voting on November 21.
The EU announced that Stefan Fuele, the commissioner in charge of the EU's neighborhood's policy, would fly to Kyiv later November 21. It will be Fuele's second visit to Kyiv this week.
The EU's Eastern Partnership summit is scheduled for November 28-29 in Vilnius.
Ahead of the summit in the Lithuanian capital, EU officials have repeatedly warned that Ukraine may not have another chance at signing the Association Agreement for several years.
Meanwhile, on a visit to Austria on November 21, President Viktor Yanukovych said Ukraine will continue on the path to European integration.
The Ukrainian opposition has accused Yanukovych of deliberately stalling on the EU Association Agreement.
Yanukovych also said that Tymoshenko's case could be resolved only within the framework of the law.
The opposition had earlier reiterated calls for Yanukovych to pardon Tymoshenko.