KYIV – At the European Union-Ukraine summit in Kyiv on July 12-13, both sides hailed strengthening relations in the wake of the EU’s final approval of an Association Agreement with Kyiv earlier that week and the bloc’s decision to grant visa-free travel to Ukrainians last month.
“On June 11, precisely one month ago, Ukrainians got the full taste of European freedom – visa-free travel to the EU,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said at a Kyiv press event. “More than 100,000 holders of Ukrainian biometric passports have used their visa-free-travel right already.”
He said these Ukrainians have seen with their own eyes why Kyiv aspires to closer relations with the EU.
Mr. Poroshenko also expressed gratitude for the EU’s support in his country’s conflict with Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and then inflamed a separatist conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
Mr. Poroshenko thanked the EU for extending its economic sanctions against Russia and for its “clearly articulated message that the sanctions will remain in place” until Russia completely abides by its commitments under the Minsk agreements on resolving the war in eastern Ukraine.
“I hope that one day… we will hold another Ukraine-EU summit in Donetsk and in Yalta,” the Ukrainian president said, referring to one city in the separatist-held part of eastern Ukraine and the other in Russian-occupied Crimea.
European Council President Donald Tusk urged Ukrainians to remain united and avoid internal conflicts. “We stand steadfast behind Ukraine,” he said.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Kyiv to do more to battle corruption.
On July 11, the European Union formally approved an Association Agreement with Ukraine, which will take effect on September 1.
Many parts of the Association Agreement have been provisionally applied since 2014, but the adoption of the agreement will ensure closer cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in areas such as foreign policy, justice, education, science and technology.
The economic part of the agreement, called the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), is also intended to open up the EU market to Ukrainian goods and will align the Ukrainian economy with EU standards by harmonizing laws and regulations.
With reporting by TASS and Reuters.
Copyright 2017, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036; www.rferl.org (see https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-eu-summit-kyiv-poroshenko/28614244.html).