Twenty eight EU heads of state and government and the prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement in Brussels, reports ELTA. The European Union and its member states also reaffirmed their commitment to sign the remainder of the agreement, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite signed the document on behalf of Lithuania.
The president underlined that the Association Agreement was a strategic decision made by the European Union and Ukraine to build a mutual partnership based on the principles of democracy.
"Ukraine has chosen Europe, and Europe has chosen Ukraine. The Association Agreement is a political step which, in the face of threats, demonstrates the European Union's strong commitment to Ukraine," she said.
Ukraine's decision to pursue a European path, the president noted, is vitally important for the progress of the state and the well-being of its people. It shows that Ukraine is ready to implement crucial reforms, fight corruption, strengthen the legal system, and introduce Western norms and standards in its economy.
Grybauskaite expressed her concern that Russia's actions were further worsening the economic situation in Ukraine. Therefore the European Union's immediate objective was to help Ukrainein its efforts to stabilize its economy. The EU has already agreed to provide 11 billion euros in financial assistance.
The conclusions approved by the European Council on Friday, March 21, state that the European Union remains committed to upholding the territorial integrity of Ukraine and that Europe does not recognize the referendum in Crimea, considering it illegal and in clear violation of the Ukrainian Constitution. The European Union strongly condemns the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. The European Council has asked the Commission and the member states to prepare additional targeted measures if Russia continues to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.
The European Council has agreed to expand the list of individuals to be subject to EU visa bans and asset freezes. It has also decided to cancel the next EU-Russia summit and it supports the suspension of negotiations over Russia's joining the OECD and IEA.
The European Union has urged to have an OSCE mission deployed in Ukraine as soon as possible. If no such agreement is reached in the coming days, the EU is ready to send a mission of its own.
The European Union has also reaffirmed its intention to sign the association agreements, initialed in Vilnius last November, with Georgia and Moldova no later than June 2014.