The European Union leaders on Thursday failed to convince Ukraine's president to sign a landmark association and free trade agreement during a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite told BNS, the Lithuania Tribune reported.
In her words, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych did not hear arguments on how new EU member states benefited from similar agreements.
"Unfortunately, it seems so far that these arguments have failed to reach the Ukrainian president's ears and mind. So far we see that positions have not changed," the Lithuanian president told BNS after a meeting of EU leaders and leaders of Eastern Partnership countries.
According to Grybaukaite, the Ukrainian president tried to suggest holding trilateral EU-Ukrainian-Russian talks but EU officials had already rejected such proposals.
"Member states have once again heard the Ukrainian president's arguments. To a large extent, the Ukrainian president talked not about the agreement, not about the signing of the agreement but about economic problems Ukraine is having and needs solving. He wanted those problems to be solved with both the EU and Russia," the Lithuanian president said.
"It seems that there was certain confusion between the benefits of a free trade agreement with the EU and the specific economic situation Ukraine is going through right now," Grybauskaite said. "All countries, especially the 12 new countries, have said and shown with their example what a free trade agreement with the EU, and convergence with the EU means, and that over the last 15 years the 12 new European countries have made such progress namely because they signed such an agreement."
The Ukraine government announced last week its decision to postpone the signing of an association agreement with the EU, citing the need to strengthen trade relations with Russia. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian president decided to attend the Vilnius Summit and raised hopes for a last-minute deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Vilnius on Thursday the door for Ukraine remains open, despite the fact the original plan to sign the agreement with Ukraine in Vilnius on Friday failed.
Meanwhile, Moldova and Georgia were congratulated by the EU after it was finally agreed in Vilnius to initial association agreements with the countries. The agreements are expected to be signed next year. Moldova should also secure a deal on a visa-free regime with the EU in Vilnius.
A meeting of heads of state and government of EU members states was held at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in central Vilnius on Thursday, and they were later joined by the presidents of Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, the prime minister of Moldova and the foreign minister of Belarus.
On Friday, the summit's plenary session and final press conference will take place at the exhibition and congress center LITEXPO.