Ukrainian, EU parliaments ratify association agreement

Ukrainian, EU parliaments ratify association agreement

Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:30PM GMT

The Ukrainian and European parliaments have ratified a controversial agreement on political association and trade aimed at deepening Kiev’s economic and political ties with the European Union (EU).

On Tuesday, 535 deputies from the European Parliament in Strasbourg and 355 of the 381 members of parliament in Kiev voted in favor of the ratification of the 1,200-page agreement, which had been rejected by ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, last year.

“From tomorrow I task the government with approving the implementation of the agreement and immediately implementing it into the force of law,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in Kiev, expressing hope that the agreement would help the country’s economy improve.

Under the agreement, a free trade zone will be established on December 31, 2015, to integrate Ukraine into Europe’s USD 17-trillion economy.

Kiev will be also obligated to cooperate with the EU in areas such as energy, industry, taxes, tourism, justice system, and law.

The association agreement was rejected by Yanukovych last November. The refusal triggered months of deadly unrest and clashes with the police, which finally led to the ouster of Yanukovych in February and the installment of a Western-backed government. Yanukovych’s ouster in turn sparked massive protests in southeastern parts of the country.

The Ukrainian parliament also on Tuesday passed two bills granting three years of limited self-rule to pro-Russia eastern regions, as well as amnesty for fighters on all sides of the conflict.

Local elections will be also held in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on December 7.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russians and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence the pro-Russians in mid-April. More than 2,700 people have been killed in the conflict.

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