BRUSSELS, June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The former president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) told a conference in Istanbul the EU should "open the door" to nations such as Ukraine and benefit from the growth of greater trade and the spread of European values.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Deputy Chairman of Turkey's AK Party in charge of Foreign Affairs and former President of PACE, told the EU Istanbul Conference the EU has a choice between helping and pushing nations such as Ukraine.
"Ukraine should be helped from both sides, not pushed by both sides," he said in his speech, referring to its relationships with both the EU and Russia.
"The European Union has an historic opportunity to open the Ukraine market and double its current Euros 40 billion a year of annual trade," he said.
Speaking of Turkey he added: "Trade is also part of the benefit also that the EU would derive from an Association Agreement with my country, Turkey. Turkey should have the door open to the European Union, if it chooses so and complies with the requirements of the EU membership."
Çavuşoğlu's comments come ahead of an important period for Ukraine and its relationship with the EU. Kiev is expected in November to sign an Association Agreement with the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. This is the first tentative step towards EU membership but also triggers the start of a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement between the two sides.
But should that not go ahead he warns there will be consequences, the conference was told. The EU is not the only contender for Ukraine's partnership. Russia is proposing that Ukraine join its Customs Union as a direct alternative to deeper integration with Europe.
"Ukraine is torn between concluding the European Union association agreement and joining the Russian-led customs Union", Çavuşoğlu said.
"Whatever decision it takes in these conditions, it may compromise the development of this country, even possibly its unity. No country in Europe today should be placed in front of such a choice."
The conference was also addressed by former United Kingdom Foreign Minister Jack Straw and Europe's top official for enlargement, Stefan Füle.
SOURCE Ukraine Monitor