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British Ambassador to Ukraine Simon Smith has said he believes that the release of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will significantly increase the chances of Ukraine signing the Association Agreement with the European Union at the Eastern Partnership summit this November.
“In my opinion, there is no doubt that if Mrs. Tymoshenko were to be released by the time of the summit in Vilnius, this would significantly improve the prospects for signing the Association Agreement,” he said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
He noted that there still is no guarantee that this document will be signed and that the situation will depend on how Kyiv meets the necessary conditions.
“At present, both options seem possible. The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU could be signed at the Eastern Partnership summit in November, but it could also happen that the document will not be signed, as there is no guarantee of its signing,” the ambassador said.
In his opinion, EU representatives making decisions on this issue still do not have “the critical mass of confidence” that is needed to sign the agreement in November.
“This is how I see the position of many EU member states, and this is currently the position of the British government. We hope that in the next few months we will see progress on issues of particular concern in the EU,” Smith said.
He said that last December the EU Foreign Affairs Council outlined the recommendations for Ukraine, which include three main areas, in particular, the settlement of issues on the 2012 elections, the problems of selective justice and the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda.
“The European ministers said clearly that they expect, I quote, ‘decisive action and tangible progress in these three areas.’ I want to emphasize that they did not give any narrow or personalized recommendations, but rather pointed to the wider spheres of activity in which progress is expected,” the British diplomat said.
He said that there are a whole range of issues grouped into three key areas that are of concern to the EU.
“I do not believe that the EU foreign ministers are looking for reasons to say no to Ukraine. I think that, quite the contrary, they are trying to find reasons to say yes. But in order to say yes, they need to see decisive action and tangible progress,” the ambassador said.