Ukrainian prime minister explains EU move

Dec. 3, 2013 at 12:19 PM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Tuesday he had to consider bilateral ties to Russia when mulling an association agreement with the European Union.

"The decision to suspend the signature of the association agreement was made due to the fact that the situation in Ukraine is very difficult because of several factors [notably] a significant reduction in trade with the Russian Federation," he was quoted by the National News Agency as saying Tuesday.

Ukraine had aspired to a closer relationship with the EU. Kiev enacted a series of measures meant to allay European concerns about its political and justice systems but lawmakers in November decided to suspend their efforts.

The decision sparked widespread protests across much of Ukraine. At least 190 protesters and 140 policemen were injured in weekend protests.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the EU and the U.S. government each expressed concern. The U.S. State Department said Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Victoria Nuland is scheduled to visit Kiev. She is to take part in an OSCE conference Wednesday.

"We continue to stress there is no room for violence in a country that aspires to a democratic future," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.

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