Juncker can­cels Kyiv visit, EU-Ukraine sum­mit to be held in­stead

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker can­celled his visit to Ukraine on Mon­day due to health rea­sons. In­stead, an EU-Ukraine sum­mit will take place on April 27 in Kyiv, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of EU heads of state and gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to EurAc­tiv.com.

Juncker, ac­com­pa­nied by EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini, was ex­pected in Kyiv on what was go­ing to be his first bi­lat­eral visit abroad since he took of­fice last Novem­ber.

How­ever, the web­site of Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko pub­lished a press re­lease ac­cord­ing to which Juncker and Poroshenko had spo­ken by phone, and that the Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent had said he had to post­pone his visit “due to un­fore­seen health con­di­tions”.

Juncker had un­der­gone a mi­nor op­er­a­tion to treat kid­ney stones, ac­cord­ing to his spokesman.

“The par­ties have agreed to co­or­di­nate (a) new date of the visit via diplo­matic chan­nels, and con­firmed that the Ukraine-EU sum­mit would be held on April 27,” the press re­lease said.

The news about the sum­mit, ex­pected to take place in Kyiv, comes amid a shaky cease­fire be­tween Kyiv forces and pro-Rus­sian sep­a­ratists in the coun­try’s east, which came into force on Fe­bru­ary 15.

The hold­ing of an­nual sum­mits was set down in the as­so­ci­a­tion agree­ment signed by the Euro­pean Union and Kyiv’s pro-west­ern gov­ern­ment af­ter it came to power in June 2014.

That fol­lowed the fall of the pro-Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych in Fe­bru­ary 2014, who left the coun­try fol­low­ing three months of bloody protests sparked by his de­ci­sion to sus­pend prepa­ra­tions for the sign­ing of the EU agree­ment.

The April sum­mit is ex­pected to ad­dress Poroshenko’s re­quest for Euro­pean peace­keep­ers to help mon­i­tor the truce be­tween Kyiv and pro-Rus­sian rebels, aimed at end­ing nearly a year of fight­ing.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day for­mally ap­proved new eco­nomic aid worth EUR 1.8 bln for Ukraine, two-thirds of which could be dis­bursed by the end of the 2015. The EU cash was of­fered as part of an In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund pro­gramme aimed at mo­bil­is­ing up to $40 bln. The IMF has al­ready ap­proved a $17.5 bln loan as part of the pack­age in ex­change for the gov­ern­ment’s suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­forms.

This week, two top of­fi­cials were ar­rested for cor­rup­tion on live TV at a gov­ern­ment meet­ing. Also, pow­er­ful oli­garch Igor Kolo­moisky, widely cred­ited for help­ing halt the rebel ad­vance, lost his job as a re­gional gover­nor fol­low­ing a row over his role at two state oil com­pa­nies.

Armed men be­lieved to be work­ing on Kolo­moisky’s be­half tem­po­rar­ily took over the Kyiv head­quar­ters of both firms, forc­ing Poroshenko to sack the bil­lion­aire from his po­lit­i­cal role in the key cen­tral re­gion of Dnipropetro­vsk.

Pres­i­dent Poroshenko told Ukraine’s In­ter TV on Satur­day that he was in the process of weak­en­ing the oli­garchs’ grip on the coun­try, adding that he “would not al­low a rep­e­ti­tion of the chaos in Kyiv in any city”.

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