EU blames Russia for failure of last-ditch trade talks

'We were quite close to finding some solutions but today there was not enough flexibility from the Russian side,' EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem says

EU blames Russia for failure of last-ditch trade talks

World Bulletin / News Desk

The European Union on Monday blamed Russia for the failure of last-ditch talks meant to ease Moscow's fears about an EU free trade accord with Ukraine that is due to take effect on January 1.

"We were quite close to finding some solutions but today there was not enough flexibility from the Russian side," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said after talks in Brussels with top Russian and Ukrainian officials.

"This exercise is now over," Malmstroem said, detailing repeated efforts over the past 18 months to meet Russia's demands as the Ukraine crisis pushed ties with Moscow into the deep freeze.

The trade pact is part of a wider EU-Ukraine association agreement which sparked the overthrow of the pro-Moscow government in Kiev in early 2014.

Moscow claims the trade deal undermines its economic interests in Ukraine, a former Soviet-era satellite, and will allow a flood of cheap EU products into one of its key markets. 

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in Moscow earlier: "Neither Ukraine nor the European Union are ready to sign a legally binding agreement which would take into account Russia's interests."

Malmstroem said the 28-nation EU had "been very open to listening to concerns from Russia," even if some of them "were not very real" and, if accepted, would have scuppered the free trade accord.

She said Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision last week to suspend Moscow's own free trade accord with Ukraine came as a surprise, as did Medvedev's announcement of a food import ban against Kiev.

"We agreed to meet with Russia to take stock of concerns they might have. The implication was thatRussia would not add sanctions to Ukraine, nor suspend its own free trade accord."

"We were a bit surprised by Putin's announcement," she said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Aralık 2015, 14:35
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