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EU and Ukraine say 'door still open' for future trade pact

EU and Ukraine say 'door still open' for future trade pact
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Despite last minute attempts by European leaders to save the trade deal with Ukraine, there was no signature on the dotted line.

As the summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius came to an end, both sides stressed the door remained open to signing the agreement in the future.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told those gathered at the summit: “We know how much Ukrainian people feel European, how much they care about Europe.We will, of course, now pursue our conversations with our Ukrainian partners, knowing well that we should always respect Ukraine’s sovereign decisions.”

Barroso went on to say: “The fact that we have a strategic partnership with Russia does not mean that when we are dealing with another country, we can accept any kind of third party involvement in a bilateral relationship. We cannot accept a condition on a bilateral agreement to have a kind of possible veto by a certain country.”

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite added that pressure from Russia was no excuse for Ukraine’s decision: “I want to say that external pressure cannot be used as an excuse for the decisions of a sovereign country. And our experience of Lithuania for example shows that if you have the political will to resist and not to give in, the pressures are not working.”

Russia has called on EU leaders to stop criticising Ukraine’s decision. President Vladimir Putin says the free trade deal would have been a “major threat” to Russia’s economy.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich said the country had not been offered enough economic support from the EU for it to sign the Association Agreement. He declared the EU offer of 600 million euros in aid “humiliating”.