Ukraine not to stray away from EU integration course – Prime Minister

KIEV, August 6 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine’s authorities will never sheer away from the course towards European integration, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said on Saturday.

“Now we are laying solid grounds for Ukraine’s European future. If our country is rich, self-sufficient, European entry will be smooth and easy for us,” he said appearing at the Zhatva-2011 (Harvesting) ethno festival outside Kiev. “Ukraine’s future depends on the Ukrainian people not on hysterics or advisers.”

“We shall go though all trials we are facing, through hard demagogy, hypocrisy, sanctimony, deception, populism, treachery, and betrayal tests, though all of this to come out only stronger,” he stressed.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also said the recent arrest of former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party Yulia Timoshenko will not impact the signing of the agreement on association with the European Union. “We believe the future of the big state with a population of 45 million, its strategic development vector cannot depend on the carrier and the life of one politician,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshin said.

Earlier, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko said that the association agreement is highly likely to be signed before the yearend. “We are working to sign the association agreement with the European Union, including on a free trade zone, before the end of 2011,” he said.

In the mean time, the news of Timoshenko’s arrest was met with concern in the European Union. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, and Stefan F·le, the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, made a statement.

“The EU and other international partners of Ukraine have repeatedly underlined the need for fair, transparent and independent legal processes to avoid any perception of a policy of selective justice,” they said in the statement. “Today’s events are therefore a cause for concern about the state of the rule of law in Ukraine.”

”We urge Ukraine to uphold the principles and common values that form the core of the Eastern Partnership,” the stressed.

A similar position was voiced by President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek. “I am disturbed by the news about Court’s decision to detain former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. The context and conditions raise concern about the politically motivated nature of this decision, and about the application of the rule of law in Ukraine,” he said in statement circulated on Friday. “I urge Ukraine to uphold the principles and common values that define our relationship and that form the core of the Eastern partnership.”

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