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Leaders arrive in Vilnius for EU summit


Lithuania

Leaders arrive in Vilnius for EU summit

EU leaders have arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania for the Eastern Partnership Summit.

Both EU and Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that the suspension of talks on closer ties could be revived after the two-day meeting. But officials said that the deal was off the table for now.

Faced with pressure from Russia, Ukraine’s leaders last week put plans for further integration with the EU on ice, sparking massive protests at home.

Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign affairs minister, told euronews: “In theory, they can sign it anytime. Our door is open. We have clearly said that the offer is on the table. Whenever President Yanukovych thinks that he is ready, or when the political forces of Ukraine get the strength in order to do it, the EU is ready.”

The EU itself seems resigned to playing a waiting game with Ukraine.

Polish MEP,Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, from the European People’s Party, told euronews it may take until Ukraine changes its government: “the day will come that Ukraine has a pro-European president with a strong democratic backing from the nation. So we have to wait until the elections in 2015,” he said.

The Association Agreement with Ukraine was supposed to be the signature event of the two-day summit.

Thousands of people have kept up daily protests in Kyiv against Yanukovych’s decision to drop further EU integration for closer ties with Russia.

There were further protests as EU leaders arrived for an informal working dinner at the Grand Duke Palace in Vilnius on Thursday evening.

Euronews correspondent in Vilnius, Natalia Richardson, says the chances of signing the EU-Ukraine agreement at the summit are almost zero. However, she adds that the Ukrainian question is still the most important one at the meeting and European leaders have underlined that they will still support the European integration of Ukraine

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