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  Politics
EU foreign policy suffers setback in Ukraine
24/11/2013 | LOC11:16
08:16 GMT
| World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
By Nawab Khan BRUSSELS, Nov 24 (KUNA) -- European Union foreign policy suffered a major blow in its aspirations to bind six former Soviet Union republics closer to the 28-member European bloc after Ukraine rejected on November 21 to sign the association agreement proposed by the EU at next week's Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on November 28 and 29.
The EU diplomatic community in Brussels is stunned after Kiev turned its back on the EU, declined to meet EU demands to free jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and opted instead for stronger relations with Russia.
The Belgian daily, Le Soir, commented that the Eastern Partnership, which was meant to bring the EU closer to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, is "in a state of clinical death", and that Russian pressures have played their part.
"Europe loses the battle for the Ukraine" bannered the Austrian daily Die Presse on its front page.
EU is offering new association agreements including deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with the Eastern Partnership countries.
The potential these countries offer for diversifying the EU's energy supplies and reduce dependence on Russian energy is a key factor in the Partnership.
Yet, in August, Armenia abandoned a pending free-trade agreement with the EU putting Brussels' policy towards its eastern neighbours in total disarray.
These unexpected moves have boosted the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin who wants to establish a Eurasian Customs Union to strengthen ties with the former Soviet republics.
Moscow has threatened with trade and energy sanctions against those ex-Soviet Union states that are eager to sign agreements with the EU.
Analysts believe that the EU's Eastern Partnership is becoming a battleground where Europe and Russia are vying to dominate and influence the region.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has promised that the Vilnius summit will "open a new chapter" in the EU's relations with its Eastern partners expressed her disappointment over Ukraine's rebuff.
The newspaper SME in Slovakia opined that the U-turn in relations between the EU and Ukraine is an important lesson for European diplomats, who are often distinguished by their "unfounded optimism" and failure to grasp who they are negotiating with. (end) nk.sd KUNA 241116 Nov 13NNNN
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