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Ukraine and EU leaders discuss reforms in Kiev and EU accession

Most European media report on the Ukraine-EU summit that started yesterday in Kiev, which is their first summit since the revolution of February 2014 in Kiev. According to reports the EU was playing down prospects for a peacekeeping operation in the country while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was defending the pace of his domestic reforms.

Il Sole 24 Ore reported that European leaders did not explicitly support Ukraine’s decision to join the Union. Ukraine is part of Europe, but not of the European project, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said, quoted in El Pais. The Spanish daily adds that Petro Poroshenko showed once again his people’s willingness to enter the EU, stating that “this tough battle will be rewarded with integration into the European family.” The Ukrainian President said that Ukraine will be ready to join the EU in five years, but also emphasised that the EU must send the message that Ukraine’s effort can lead to membership, EU media report.

Most media reveal that EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk urged Ukraine to implement reforms to cut debt, lower inflation and stop corruption, as well as to apply the Minsk agreement. “Implementing reforms and fighting corruption is important in Ukraine, if the Ukrainians want to live in a better society,” Mr Juncker said at the meeting, quoted by Jyllands Posten. Soir Europe reports that the European Commission gave an €11-billion loan to Ukraine to help the country get back on its feet. For its part, Kiev wants an international peacekeeping mission, but Brussels deems the OSCE’s observer mission sufficient.

Kiev also wants to receive weapons in order to defend itself against separatist forces, but Europe dreads an escalation. Ukraine, which is in a poor economic state, needs European investments, but Brussels first wants the Ukrainian government to enact the reforms it promised. Nevertheless, Mr Tusk announced that Europe will send a mission to Ukraine to determine what assistance the country needs.

The Ukrainian government demanded the abolishment of visa obligations for Ukrainian citizens entering the EU and a clear perspective for an accession to the EU, ORF1, Luxemburger Wort, ČRo Radiožurnál and Les Echos report. Nevertheless, Mr Tusk preferred to insist on the implementation, in 2016, of a free-trade deal between Ukraine and the EU. The implementation of this agreement has already been postponed due to Russian pressure, and Jean-Claude Juncker claimed that putting it off further would “not be wise,” Gazeta Wyborcza reports.

As a consequence, Mr Juncker said that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will come into force on January 1st 2016, ERR and Ziniu Radijas report. Diário Económico and media in Cyprus report that the summit was disturbed by the combats in Mariupol. Yesterday Angela Merkel said that sanctions against Russia would likely be extended at the next EU summit in June, according to Les Echos. Il Sole 24 Ore writes that European Council President Donald Tusk said that the EU is united on sanctions against Russia, which will remain in force until the Minsk accords will be totally implemented.

Jyllands Posten writes that the European Council President Donald Tusk will be visiting Moldova this Tuesday. There, he will meet with Moldovan politicians in order to understand the country’s situation and to help it resolve its internal conflict between the pro-EU and pro-Russian regions. Media in Cyprus, Greece, France, Romania, Slovakia and Spain report that during the summit, EC President Juncker pledged a further €70 million in financial assistance from the European Commission to ensure a “return to a safe environment” at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Total EU aid for Chernobyl will thus reach €360 million, Rádio Slovensko and aktuality.sk report. Elconfidencial.com quotes Mr Juncker stating “our actions speak louder than our words. The EU is helping to make Chernobyl safe again.” Les Echos reveals that on Wednesday, Germany will preside a meeting rallying the countries contributing to the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement.

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