Despite EU push, Ukraine stays out of partnership deal
Friday, November 29, 2013 - 01:43
Nov. 29 - In a historic shift away from Russia, former Soviet bloc nations sign a partnership agreement with the EU but Ukrainians remain angry that their president did not sign the deal. Mana Rabiee reports.
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It was supposed to be a historic shift away from Russia.
Friday's summit in Lithuania was meant to bring six former Soviet bloc nations closer to the European Union.
Georgia and Moldovia did sign partnership agreements with the EU.
But Ukraine, did not.
Russia, keen to maintain its influence over former Soviet republics, wants Ukraine to join a Russian-led trade bloc, instead.
It put pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich not to sign the EU deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande blamed President Yanukovich for the failure in the talks.
So did Ukrainian opposition leader Oleksander Turchinov.
(SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) HEAD OF UNITED OPPOSITION HEADQUARTERS, OLEKSANDER TURCHINOV, SAYING:
"This decision was made earlier, as you know, during talks between Yanukovich and President Putin and the refusal to sign the agreement was entirely Yanukovich's personal responsibility."
President Yanukovich had already signaled he would back away from the deal.
Thousands of Ukrainians, demanding closer ties to the EU, demonstrated in the capital, Kiev, for the ninth straight day…
...with tensions only rising...
(SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) PROTESTER FROM LVIV, DZVINKA, SAYING:
"We will stay until the moment that the authorities change. I don't want to be with Russia… I want my children to live in a European country."
With its 46 million people, Ukraine is an attractive trading partner for both Moscow and Brussels.
The EU wants to build influence in eastern Europe and the southern Caucuses.
But by choosing its former Soviet master -- Russia -- Ukraine has dealt a blow to the EU's well-laid plans.
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