Poroshenko ready to sign Ukraine-EU trade deal
Ukraine's newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko, wants to sign a landmark trade deal with the European Union soon after his inauguration as head of state, his office said today, after EU officials suggested there might be some delay.
The proposed trade agreement with the EU has been at the heart of Ukraine's political crisis over the past six months since former Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich turned his back on the accord at the last minute.
His decision to jilt the EU and seek a $15 billion bailout from Russia triggered protests that led to him being ousted.
Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate factory owner who won an unprecedented first round victory in Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday, has pledged to align his former Soviet republic of 45 million people with the EU.
"Petro Poroshenko considers it essential not to delay the signing of the economic part of the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union," his office said in a statement sent to Reuters.
"In his opinion, such a signing could take place immediately after the inauguration of the new president of Ukraine."
No date has yet been set for the inauguration but it is expected to take place by mid-June.
Earlier today, an EU official said Ukrainian authorities had indicated to the 28-nation bloc that they would need "a bit of time to see how they want to proceed (with the EU trade agreement)".
EU officials said Poroshenko felt he needed breathing space to deal with Ukraine's internal problems and did not want to appear forced into signing the agreement prematurely.