EU: Russia drops opposition to EU-Ukraine trade deal starting 2016

GMT 17:07 2015 Monday ,18 May

Arab Today, arab today EU: Russia drops opposition to EU-Ukraine trade deal starting 2016

A man walks past a currency exchange shop
Brussels - AFP

Russia has dropped its demands for a further delay in a landmark EU-Ukraine trade deal at the heart of the Ukraine crisis and accepts that it will now begin next year, the EU said Monday.

"The reference that the (trade agreement) enter into force on 1 January 2016 was not contested by the Russian delegation," Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said after talks with Russian and Ukrainian officials.

Malmstroem added that there was a "clear understanding" that the deal would not be amended and would now be implemented on time.

Russia had claimed that the so-called EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement will damage its own important economic ties and interests in its Soviet-era satellite.

The free trade accord is part of the broader EU Association Agreement, whose sudden rejection by Kremlin-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in late 2013 triggered the protests that led to his downfall and the current crisis in Ukraine.

The deal was finally agreed in 2014 and was originally due to come into effect in January this year.

But in September the EU postponed implementation for a year to support peace efforts as a first ceasefire accord was negotiated in the Ukraine conflict between government forces and pro-Russian rebels.

In return, Russia promised to hold off on the retaliation it had threatened if the EU and Ukraine had gone ahead with the trade pact without resolving its concerns.

Several rounds of talks between EU, Ukraine and Russian officials had been held before but no progress has been reported.

The EU still has tough sanctions in place against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.


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