Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ukraine Readies Choice Between EU, Russia

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych’s top ally said Wednesday Ukraine is in crucial talks with both the European Union and Russia and it’s up to the president to decide next month which way the country should go.
This is the first time that a senior official has admitted that Ukraine has been de-facto choosing between pro-European or pro-Russian foreign policy courses.

Yanukovych and his government have so far publicly spoken in favor of European integration of Ukraine, ruling out closer political integration with Russia.

“One has to realize that currently is a defining stage of talks between Ukraine and the European Union, and the Russian Federation,” Hanna Herman, the top policy advisor to Yanukovych, said in an interview with Channel 5.

“One has to trust the president,” Herman said.

“Trust that he is doing his best to secure better terms for his country, and that the president will make a step in the direction that will most respond to the national interests of Ukraine.”

The comment comes hours after an Interfax report suggested that Yanukovych was due to attend a summit of the Euro-Asian Economic Union, a political bloc led by Russia, in Moscow on December 19.

The report sparked confusion among political figures in Ukraine and abroad because Yanukovych is supposed to host a summit with the European Union on December 19 in Kiev.

Neither the Foreign Ministry nor other government agencies have confirmed the trip by Yanukovych to Moscow on December 19.

But the report came a week after a source at the Polish EU Presidency had suggested the EU may cancel the summit with Ukraine if the authorities fail to release opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko by that time.
Asked about the possibility of Yanukovych’s surprise trip to Moscow on December 19, Herman suddenly spoke about the art of diplomacy.

“It happens that sometimes on the diplomatic chess board one has to make surprise moves,” Herman said. “Not always you can or should explain them.”

A source at the Euro-Asian Economic Union in Moscow told Unian news agency that Yanukovych, just like leaders of other countries that have observer status at the union, had been invited to join the summit on December 19.

However, such leaders usually make decisions on whether to join just days before the summit takes place.

In any case, it is a presidential administration – not the staff of the union - that reports on the leader’s agenda, the source said.

Pawel Kowal, a member of the European Parliament for Poland, said Wednesday the reports of the alleged trip to Moscow may be part of a game aimed at preventing Ukraine’s pro-European course.

“In difficult moments, and this is a difficult moment, some people want to make sure that integration between Ukraine and the European Union does not materialize,” Kowal said.

“That’s why I think that one must not pay attention to these reports. We know that these are elements of a certain game.”

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