European Commission Ex-President: Ukraine Should Become a Bridge Between Russia and the EU

Oct 23, 2012, 12:51 ET from Worldwide News Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine, October 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Ukraine has been pursuing a balanced policy between Russia and the EU and the Europeans should support this trend. Such statement was made by the ex-President of the European Commission, the former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in his video address to the International Forum "Innovation and International Integration" held on Oct. 18-19, in Verona, Italy.  

Strengthening of relations between Europe and Russia is crucial, but such policy should also involve Ukraine which is to serve as a bridge between Russia and the EU, stressed Prodi, reports Interfax-Ukraine. He also highlighted that supporting this trend is the correct and mandatory policy for the EU. We are very interested that Ukraine becomes prosperous and stable, said the ex-president of the European Commission.

Currently, Ukraine holds its position between Russia and the European Union. For more than a year now Ukraine has been negotiating with Russia the decrease of gas prices, which, according to Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister Serhiy Tihipko, are the highest in Europe. Russia, on the other hand, invites Ukraine to join the customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, offering lower price for gas and other trade benefits. Notably, the volume of trade with Russia - one of the key international trade partners of Ukraine - surpassed USD 50 billion in 2011.

The EU is another strategic trade partner of Ukraine. The Union's trade with Ukraine in 2011 constituted USD 44 billion.

In July 2012 the EU and Ukraine finished editing and coordinating approvals of the economic part of the Association Agreement. The document creates a framework for cooperation and stipulates establishing closer economic, cultural, and social ties. Now that the document had been initialed, it is being translated in 24 languages and prepared for signing.

Another part of the EU - Ukraine integration is visa liberalization process. In July 2012, the EU and Ukraine extended the list of categories of the Ukrainian citizens who may undergo a simplified procedure to obtain visas to the EU. Currently, Ukraine is at stage one of the two-stage Visa Liberalisation Action Plan. The Plan provides the establishment of a visa-free regime for short-stay travel to the EU.

SOURCE Worldwide News Ukraine