By Borys Humeniuk
AFTER seven years of intense negotiations, the Economic Chapter of the Association Agreement (AA) between Ukraine and the EU on creation of a free trade area or DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) will be signed by the newly elected President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on Friday.
The Political Chapter of the AA was signed recently by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yiatseniuk. The European Union has never before held out the prospect of such a far-reaching contractual relation to a non-candidate state like Ukraine.
By entering into the Association Agreement, Ukraine is expressing its determination to transform from a post-soviet state to a country that is an integral part of the civilised world.
It covers common values, the increased participation of Ukraine in EU programmes, and cross-border cooperation in the field of external and security policy among other aspects.
It also helps Ukraine achieve European standards in justice and home affairs as well as providing support for combating corruption. Enhanced economic cooperation will also be feature.
The AA as an internationally binding document, creates the best preconditions for the rule of law, democracy and the market economy. Since it was Ukraine that insisted on the ‘new enhanced agreement’, the EU rightly expects that the Ukrainian party fully understands the meaning of “association relations” and is ready to pursue it.
The scope of EU acquis contained in annexes to the AA to be incorporated into the legislation in Ukraine will be unprecedented for other association agreements. It will be close to the scope that candidate countries usually undertake and could become a beacon for socially important reforms, ensuring the irreversibility of Ukraine’s European integration.
The immediate benefits include: access to a wider product range and improved safety of products offered in the domestic market through harmonisation of safety requirements, and improvement of the ecological environment and labour conditions
Without any doubt, completion of the AA during these very difficult days in Ukraine will be a very important event.
Within a framework of the military conflict in the Eastern part of Ukraine, signing of the Economic Chapter of the AA, on the one hand, demonstrates solidarity by the European club of civilised countries to provide corresponding assistance to their neighbour state.
On the other had it imposes a high-level responsibility on Ukraine itself. The final success as well as the level of economic development depends only on us and on how we handle the implementation of the AA.
It is very serious chance for us, which we do not have right to lose. Considering the Ukrainian-Cypriot relations through the lens of the Ukrainian-Russia conflict I would like to stress one more time that Cyprus implements a very balanced, measured and objective policy which, without any doubt, will only promote further the development and prosperity of the traditionally friendly and mutually beneficial relations between our two states.
Borys Humeniuk is the Ambassador of Ukraine to Cyprus