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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

3rd November 2011

EU/Ukraine: Signing by Christmas?

“So it seems to me,” the Ukrainian business leader says, “that Ukraine is so important to the EU that they’ll overlook Mrs Tymoshenko and recent declines in democratic standards and we’ll sign the Association Agreement in December.”

“No,” I say.  “That’s won’t happen, for several reasons.”

I’m visiting an important Ukrainian enterprise which does a lot of trade with the EU, the CIS and the rest of the world.  I’ve toured their impressive premises, stuffed with high-tech equipment and employing large numbers of people.  Now we’re chatting in the office of the head of the outfit, an impressive and thoughtful businessman.

“First,” I say, “it’s important to clarify the difference between initialling, signing and ratifying the Association Agreement.  If Ukraine and the EU both work hard, it may still be possible to initial the Association Agreement in December.  But with every day which goes past without substantive negotiations, that becomes less likely.  The EU is ready to initial the Agreement, together with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, once negotiations are complete.

“But signature and ratification of the Association Agreement,” I go on, “cannot happen until at least six months after initialling – for a full explanation, check out the blog linked above.  And as the UK and EU have made clear, unless opposition leaders detained as a result of flawed trials are released and able to participate in political activity, it’s highly unlikely that member states will sign and ratify the Association Agreement.  Without that, Ukraine won’t get the benefits of either the Association Agreement or the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.  This is important for the future of Ukraine.  Any delay will make me a bit sad, because I’m keen to see the Association Agreement and DCFTA implemented as soon as possible.  But the EU can’t compromise on core democratic principles.”

“Well,” the business leader says.  “At least that’s clear.  And I agree with your policy.  But do the Ukrainian authorities understand all that?”

“I hope so,” I say.  “But since you weren’t sure, perhaps some other people aren’t either.  I’ll do a blog underlining again the difference between initialling, signature and ratification.  I hope you’re reading the blog.”

“I’ll do that,” he says.

1 comment on “EU/Ukraine: Signing by Christmas?

  1. Oleg – thanks. This choice of options assumes there is no “third way” ie for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate the strength of the country’s democracy by releasing opposition leaders imprisoned as the result of flawed trials. Neither of the other options looks all that appealing.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.