European leaders appear to have made no progress on reviving a far-reaching association agreement with Ukraine at an EU summit in Vilnius. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly froze plans to sign the trade and reform deal last week, under pressure from Russia. The Ukraine agreement, the summit’s centrepiece, would have been a major step towards eventual integration.
But progress was made with two other ex-Soviet states, Georgia and Moldova. Both initialled association agreements on Friday, the closing day of the summit, with diplomats hopeful that these can be signed next year.
Another ex-Soviet state, Azerbaijan, signed an agreement to simplify procedures for certain categories of visa.
Pro-EU protests are continuing in Ukrainian cities against the government’s decision to back out of the agreement.
President Yanukovych defended his refusal to sign, by saying the EU was not offering adequate financial aid to upgrade Ukraine’s economy.
But he said Ukraine was still committed to signing the association agreement “in the near future”.
He also rejected an EU demand to free Yulia Tymoshenko, the imprisoned former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition leader.
In other summit business, UK Prime Minister David Cameron raised concerns about the free movement of people in the EU. Britain is planning to restrict access to welfare benefits for new immigrants, when labour restrictions are eased in January.