Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius (photo: AFP)
The European Union's decision to give Ukraine more time to fully implement a trade pact to assuage Russian pressure is a potentially dangerous step that leaves the gates open for Moscow to press for major changes to the deal, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has said.
The foreign ministers comments come after the EU gave Ukraine until the end of 2015 to implement key parts of a bilateral trade and political pact. In return, Russia agreed not to retaliate against Kiev for ratifying the agreement.
"It was I believe tactically and strategically not a very right step," Linkevicius told the Wall Street Journal.
"Any concessions won't lead to concessions from the other side... It will lead to continuous pressure."
EU officials have said they offered the compromise to relieve pressure on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who fears Russian trade and possibly military retaliation. The deal was struck as the Ukrainian leader was negotiating with Moscow a broader cease fire to quell Kiev's fight with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Linkevicius said he remains concerned the compromise would lead to "a review of the Association Agreement substance because the gates are open for that now. I believe it should not be done."
Linkevicius said EU foreign ministers briefly discussed the situation at an informal meeting in New York earlier this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. He made clear Lithuania thinks it is "too early" to ease the pressure.