News / Europe

European Union Signs Up Moldova and Georgia, but Loses the Big Prize, Ukraine

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, center, arrives on the podium for a group photo at an Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, center, arrives on the podium for a group photo at an Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.
x
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, center, arrives on the podium for a group photo at an Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, center, arrives on the podium for a group photo at an Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.
James Brooke
Pressured by street demonstrations at home, Ukraine’s president reluctantly traveled to a European Union summit in Lithuania. But he frustrated five years of negotiations by failing to sign on Friday a long-awaited free trade pact and political association treaty with the EU.
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel summed up European frustration when she was caught on camera bluntly lecturing President Viktor Yanukovych: “We expected more.”
 
In the video, Yanukovych responds to the German leader: “The economic situation in Ukraine is very hard. And we have big difficulties with Moscow.”
 
Moscow exerted heavy economic pressure on two other former Soviet republics, Moldova and Georgia. But they both initialed similar pacts with the EU on Friday. To shore up Moldova’s resolve, the EU offered the impoverished country’s 3.5 million citizens visa-free travel entry within the 28-nation bloc.

Moscow pressure
 
Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski told a Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that Russian President Vladimir Putin deployed against Ukraine "a policy of hard pressure, using money, economics, and politics. And maybe something else instead.”

European Union Council President Herman van Rompuy told reporters, “We have to overcome pressure from abroad. This is a time of courage. This is a time for decisions.”

The European Union has 500 million consumers and an economy six times the size of the rival bloc that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine to join.
 
In Moscow, Viktor Mironenko, Europe analyst at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, says the main focus of Ukraine’s leader is to win re-election in presidential elections in March 2015.
 
“The President of Ukraine thinks above all about elections of 2015, and to leave his hands free,” he said of Yanukovych’s strategy.
 
In a GfK Ukraine public opinion survey conducted last month, 45 percent of Ukrainian respondents said they favored joining the European Union - more than three times the 14 percent that wanted to join Putin’s rival Eurasian Union.

Huge protests
 
Mironenko said massive street protests across Ukraine this past week surprised Yanukovych and forced him to fly Thursday to Lithuania for the European Union summit
 
Yulia Vymyatnina, economics professor European University at St. Petersburg, says that Russia’s leaders do not trust the Ukrainian leader.
 
“They feel pretty sure that they can secure Yanukovych’s loyalty,” she said. “But, personally, I think that if there really a good offer coming from Europe, Yanukovych actually could sign an agreement.”
 
And that change of heart could come one year from now, in final weeks before Ukraine’s presidential election.
 
Keeping Ukraine’s political calendar in mind, EU leaders left Lithuania on Friday stressing that they are leaving the door open to Ukraine, the largest former republic of the Soviet Union, after Russia.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid