EU chair says Russia deal 'temporary solution' for Ukraine

18th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

European Union chair Lithuania warned Wednesday Ukraine had only delayed a looming crisis by signing an economic bail-out deal with its former master Russia.

The agreement, under which Moscow agreed to buy $15 billion (11 billion euros) of Ukrainian debt and slash its gas bill by a third, is only a "temporary solution", the Baltic state's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told AFP.

"If money is given to plug a hole, it only postpones the crisis... Unless the country moves towards modernisation, whatever it chooses will lead to crisis in the end," he said.

Linkevicius warned the agreement "will hardly appease" pro-EU protesters occupying Independence Square in Kiev.

Lithuania, which holds the EU's rotating presidency until January, had set out to use its half-year stint to bolster the bloc's ties with former Soviet states, only to see its Ukraine efforts stymied.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign a landmark Association Agreement with the EU at a summit in Lithuania's capital Vilnius last month amid pressure from Russia.

Linkevicius said it was plain that Yanukovych had chosen to seek closer ties with the Kremlin after the EU refused to provide Kiev with a 20-billion-euro ($27.5 billion) loan.

"These are very concrete steps to move much closer to Russia. That is the choice of President Yanukovych", Linkevicius told AFP.

"This process, like an auction where the highest bidder wins, is no way out of a crisis. Strategic decisions must be taken on reforms, modernisation, competitiveness for Ukrainians to stand on their own two legs," he said.

"But they make their own decisions."


© 2013 AFP

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