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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid