Ukraine turns its back on the European Union, refusing to sign an agreement with the EU and instead signing a trade agreement with Moscow, Russia. During Ukraine’s Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Mykola Asarov and President Yanukovych suspended preparations for signing a free trade and a political association agreement with the EU at next week’s summit. Those Ukrainians who oppose this move have called on its citizens to start an anti-government rally to protest the decision.
On the heels of a very trying economic summer for the European community, Ukrainian officials find it hard to depend on an agreement with countries that are still in a desperate state of affairs, with draconian measures being played out amongst EU citizens in the form of sequestration.
The shocked opposition lawmakers dressed in clothing reading “Freedom to Ukraine” and “Ukraine is Europe,” booed Azarov. They attempted to keep Azarov from competing his speech.
Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk denounced the government’s decision as state treason, accusing Yanukovych of selling out to Moscow in exchange for cash and ensuring his re-election in 2015. Yatsenyuk has traditionally been called the leader of the parliamentary faction of “Fatherland.”
Yatsenyuk served in the government of Ukraine as Minister of Economy from 2005 to 2006 and has since acted as Foreign Minister of Ukraine as well.
How does the Ukraine government expect to circumvent the European community economic team by joining with Moscow to strengthen both political and economic ties?
According to Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), who told euronews: “Prime Minister Azarov’s declaration completely contradicts his previous declarations.”
“This means that they have messed us about – or, to tell the truth, they lied to heads of state, to the international community and to Ukrainians,” Klitschko continued.
As far as leaders of the EU, William Hague, British Foreign Secretary said, “This is a missed opportunity.” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said it was a “disappointment” for both the EU and the people of Ukraine.
Vice Prime Minister, Yuri Boiko, did not support an agreement with the EU, because he believed that it did not make economic sense to go forward with the landmark deal. Boiko said instead that diminishing trade with Europe indicated that new trade would not balance out the amount of trade they would have with Russia.
Kiev announced its refusal to accept an agreement with the EU when it was determined that they would not allow jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, the arch foe of President Viktor Yanukovych, to travel to Germany for medical treatment, a key condition set by EU leaders for the agreement.
Recent political decisions by Ukraine leadership have exacerbated the volatility of the opposition and their Ukraine citizen supporters. It is expected that many will turn out for strong rallies against changing the plans put forward and worked on for the EU agreements.
Yatsenyuk asked his fellow Ukrainians to attend an opposition rally on Sunday. It will take place on Kiev’s central square.
Can Ukraine officials continue to turn their backs on a historical joining of political and economic power with the European Union? It shall be seen in the following days, as opposition leaders and their followers express their discontent.
By Lisa M Pickering