Ukrainian PM Asks 20 B from EU to Ink Association Deal

World | December 11, 2013, Wednesday // 20:38|  views

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, photo EPA/BGNES

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has asked financial assistance from the EU in the amount of EUR 20 B.

Azarov told a government meeting Wednesday that Ukraine was still open to signing the European integration deal if the European Union agreed to provide the money.

According to him, this was not a grant from the EU budget.

"We are realistic and therefore offer the EU to invest in mutually beneficial joint projects," he added.

Azarov proposed that the EU funds projects such as modernization and expansion of the European transport corridors, creating a new corridor through the Caucasus, the construction of a transport pass through the Kerch Strait and others.

He suggested European officials were more interested in monitoring the protests than in discussing a financial deal that would benefit the Ukrainian people, according to a government news release.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU at the summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius, declaring he did not want to sacrifice economic relations with Russia and asked for more financial support.

The U-turn on the EU deal sparked mass and relentless protest rallies in the country, and in particular in the capital Kiev.

Brussels, however, remains firm the conditions would not change.

"This agreement is good for the prosperity of Ukraine. This prosperity cannot be subject of an auction in which the highest bid wins," said Olivier Bailly, coordinating spokesperson for the European Commission.

Yanukovych said Tuesday that he was "strongly against opposing relations with Europe in favor of relations with Russia and vice versa."

The EU is also pressuring Yanukovych to free his main political opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, who has languished in jail for two years after being convicted of abuse of power in 2011. The verdict was decried by the EU and other critics as a sham.

The Orange Revolution that swept Yanukovych from office in 2004 also brought the pro-Western Tymoshenko to power.

Many of the protesters have carried her picture in Independence Square during the rallies.

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Tags: protest rallies, Yulia Tymoshenko, Orange Revolution, European Commission, European Union, assistance, President Viktor Yanukovych, Kiev, Russian, Russia, Mykola Azarov, Ukrainian Prime Minister, Ukraine, Association Agreement


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