Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych “intends to sign” the trade and cooperation agreement with the EU that he rejected last month, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Thursday after talks with Yanukovych in Kiev.
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych “intends to sign” the trade and cooperation agreement with the EU that he rejected last month, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Thursday.
“Yanukovych made it clear to me that he intends to sign the Association Agreement,” Ashton said.
Speaking after talks with Yanukovych in Kiev, Ashton said Ukraine’s economic problems “can be addressed by the support that not only comes from the EU institutions, but actually by showing that he has a serious economic plan in signing the Association Agreement”.
"What he talked about were the short-term economic issues that the country faces," Ashton said.
This deal “will help to bring in the kind of investment that he needs”, she said.
Signing the EU agreement would be yet another about-face for Yanukovych, who scuttled the deal at the last minute ahead of a signing ceremony in Vilnius late last month after coming under pressure from Russia.
The move prompted mass protests in Kiev, with demonstrators calling for closer ties with Europe.
The United States is considering imposing sanctions on Ukraine after riot police clashed with protesters on Wednesday, with Secretary of State John Kerry speaking of his "disgust" at the crackdown.
EU and other Western diplomats have increased their pressure on Yanukovych to seek a solution to the tensions that have paralysed the economically troubled nation of 46 million.
Moscow has worked to derail the accord by saying that signing it would have negative consequences for Ukraine's trade ties with Russia. Yanukovych, who is currently seeking a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to keep his country from going bankrupt, is sensitive to the threat of any further economic disruption, particularly with key trading partner Russia.