Ukraine readies roadmap for Customs Union amid protests: report

Ukraine readies roadmap for Customs Union amid protests: report

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Ukrainian cabinet has instructed the nation’s Economic Development Ministry to draw up a roadmap for Ukraine to join the Russian-led Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, according to the minutes of a government meeting, a local media report said, according to RIA Novosti.

The roadmap should be prepared for a Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental commission meeting due to take place Tuesday, Dec 17, internet news site zn.ua reported, citing the minutes.

Ukraine’s cabinet ministers have been instructed to give their “proposals for the project of a road map for a convergence of Ukraine’s technical regulations with the technical regulations of the Customs Union,” zn.ua says, citing the minutes. The cabinet also supported the Economic Development Ministry’s proposals for Ukraine to adhere to the Customs Union’s regulations regarding money laundering and financing of terrorism, the report said.

The news comes as both Russia and the European Union strive to lock Kyiv into economic association agreements, after Kyiv made a dramatic volte face last month and decided not to sign such a deal with the EU, citing the damage the move would cause to economic relations with Moscow.

The significance of the roadmap proposal was not immediately clear Saturday, but it may be a lever to extract concessions from the EU. The Ukrainian government said just last week that it would return to association talks with the EU in the spring.

“We want to achieve stronger positions for Ukraine in talks with the EU and talks with Russia. Only then will they respect us,” Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said on Saturday following a meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych in Kyiv.

President Yanukovych, meanwhile, instructed Azarov on Saturday to make sure that society and in particular students, was informed about the government’s aims and “issues surrounding Ukraine’s European integration and the course of negotiations with the EU.”

Police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev were standing by on Saturday as rival groups of pro- and anti-European demonstrators prepared rallies for the weekend. An anti-EU integration protest in support of President Yanukovych is underway Saturday on the city’s Independence Square, at which up to 200,000 will attend, its organizers claim.

“We are monitoring the Internet and media, watching the mood of the people,” said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Bilyk. “We are of course expecting the possibility of such things [provocations],” she said. “We are inclined to work tolerantly but if a situation arises, where necessary, we will react within the law,” she said.

Riot police units cleared barricades erected by protesters around the government buildings in the center of the city last week, but large numbers of protesters remain camped in the area.

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