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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs