Ukraine welcome to join European family says president

  • 2013-11-28
  • By Rayyan Sabet-Parry, VILNIUS

Ukrainian President Yanukovych arrives in Vilnius on Nov. 28 (photo by

(For latest developments on the Vilnius, follow us on twitter here)

A major European free trade deal for Ukraine is in their own hands will be decided in the next two days, Lithuanian President Grybauskaite has said.

The leader was speaking during the Eastern Partnership Vilnius Summit on Nov. 28 where hundreds of EU leaders have gathered for talks over the future of Europe's borders.

It follows after Ukraine said they would suspend an agreement with the EU this week. Ukraine said the stall was out of necessity whilst EU leaders accused Russia of pressuring the country to the decision. 

"Everything is in their own hands," Grybauskaite told reporters before a heads of state dinner on Nov. 28.

"If they're committed to integrating with Europe and if they're going for human rights, they're always welcome in our European family.

"We can say that tomorrow afternoon. Everything will be decided today and tomorrow. A lot of things"

"The Eastern Partnership offers a variety of cooperation instruments. Apart from trade agreements we enhance operations in peoples mobility, transport and border protection."

Meanwhile, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy held talks with Yanukovych earlier. In a statement, they said the offer for Ukraine still stands.

EU officials have said Ukraine could only sign the deal if they release former President Tymoshenko. She was jailed in 2008 for alleged abuses of offices, a charge the EU said was politically motivated.

Ukraine has, so far, not agreed to release the jailed former leader whilst Yanukovych called on the EU to stop meddling with its affairs.

Tymoshenko, meanwhile, has gone on hunger strike demanding Ukraine sign the deal. Thousands of protestors remain in Kiev on the streets calling for closer EU ties. In Vilnius, around 60 protestors also made calls for Ukraine to sign the deal.

Yanukovych, who attended the meeting on Nov. 28 declined to speak to the press. Other leaders weren't so tight lipped however. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the offer for Ukraine still stands.

However,a draft final declaration of the summit seen by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty acknowledges Kiev's decision to suspend the signing of the political and trade agreement, while at the same time highlighting the Ukrainians' "unprecedented public support and mobilization" in favor of closer ties with the 28-member bloc.

Ukraine stalling is good news for Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said an EU-Ukraine free trade would hit the Russian economy and drive up unemployment.

Later, 28 heads of state, including Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron met for a heads of state dinner at the Grand Duke palace in Vilnius. 

(For latest developments on the Vilnius Summit, follow us on twitter here)