Ukraine, EU to sign economic pact June 27

Refusal to sign the agreement led to the overthrow of former President Viktor Yanukovych.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  Updated June 19, 2014 at 4:50 PM
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KIEV , Ukraine, June 19 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed an economic agreement between Ukraine and the European Union will be signed June 27.

A last-minute refusal to sign the economic part of the "Association Agreement of Ukraine and the European Union" led Poroshenko's predecessor, Viktor Yanukovuch, to be overthrown in February.

The agreement includes Ukraine in a European free trade agreement, and was a cornerstone of Poroshenko's election campaign. In his June 7 inauguration, he announced he was prepared to sign the deal, saying, "The pen is in my hand already."

The Ukrainian government, under Yanukovych, was concerned the agreement would anger its largest trading partner, Russia. Prior to a signing ceremony at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November, Yanokovych was persuaded not to sign the agreement. His decision led to public protests, in Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine, which ultimately toppled his government.

Ukraine and the EU signed the political section of the agreement Mar. 21, and since Yanukovych's downfall, Ukraine is less concerned with angering Russia.

Ukraine's Commissioner for European Integration, Valeriy Pyatnyskiy, rejected Russia's request for involvement in Ukraine-European Union economic talks. He said he expected a "high probability of a negative reaction," over the uniting of Ukraine and the European Union, from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- founders of a free trade union of their own that was to have included Ukraine.

Pyatniskiy added scornfully, "Frankly, everyday Mr. Putin generates some new surprises."

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