PARIS, May 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
More signs are emerging that EU nations are in favour of Ukraine completing its Association Agreement with the EU following reports from Paris that French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is prepared to ratify the document once it is completed later this year.
This was the message conveyed by the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Algirdas Butkevičius, after meeting his French counterpart this week:
"France will also be interested in signing the association agreement with Ukraine, but of course the French Prime Minister said that all the conditions need to be met," Butkevičius told the Baltic News Service.
This would make France one of the first of the 27 EU states to ratify the agreement after it is signed by the principle parties, most likely at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November.
Ukraine has been notified it could take months for this nation-by-nation ratification process to occur but Kyiv will be heartened by the latest positive language emanating from Paris. Approval by such a prominent EU partner will likely speed up activity by the other member states which could expedite the ratification process.
In the meantime, that signing ceremony in Vilnius is, says the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkyavichus, now more likely than ever given Ukraine's efforts to fulfill the necessary criteria.
He hailed this week's decision by the European Commission to recommend that the Council sign the Association Agreement as "a technical, but very important step."
"The EU side proceeds as scheduled in the technical and legal aspects. The success will ultimately depend on the progress by Ukraine. If Ukraine is ready, the EU will also be ready," he said.
Ukraine has introduced a range of measures to bring it into line with EU norms and practices including reforming its criminal and tax codes, and passing a bill in support of a simpler visa regime which was just this week approved by the Council of the Europe.
It also negotiated with Brussels a deep and comprehensive free trade area - the corner stone of the economic integration process - which, under a special provision, would come into force before the EU member states get to ratify the Association Agreement.
SOURCE Ukraine Monitor