Ukrainian president ambiguous on hosting EU summit
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych appeared unsure Thursday of plans to host a key meeting with the European Union next month amid reports that he will go to Moscow instead.
"I didn't give anyone information as to where I will be on the 19th," he told journalists, who wondered if the Ukrainian leader will instead go to a summit in Moscow on economic cooperation between former Soviet states.
"I will be where I am needed," Yanukovych said. His official agenda is to host a summit with the EU.
Reports citing sources in the Eurasian economic community (Evrazes) in which Ukraine is an observer, and which Kiev effectively snubbed for many years, said Wednesday that Yanukovych will participate in its summit on December 19.
If true, the move would be literally a turning of Ukraine's back on Europe at a time when its relations with Brussels are tainted by the current imprisonment of opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko.
However Ukrainian diplomatic sources quoted by Kommersant daily said information about the president's participation in the Moscow summit are unfounded, calling them a "planned provocation."
"I don't exclude that technically speaking Yanukovych can fly out to Moscow in the evening of the 19 to spend the night there and then participate in the CIS summit on the 20, but not Evrazes," a source in the foreign ministry told the paper.
"Nobody would even get the idea to cancel the EU summit in this manner."
Kiev and Brussels had been planning to meet in December to sign the EU-Ukraine association agreement.
But after the arrest and jailing of Tymoshenko, which it called "political," the EU humiliated Kiev by canceling its visit to Brussels, and even threatened to abandon the agreement.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Tuesday went as far as to say that a "fair" reexamination of the Tymoshenko verdict should be a condition for holding the summit.
Officially, the summit is still planned. "For the moment, we are preparing for the summit," the spokesman of Ukraine's EU delegation told AFP.
© 2011 AFP