: In Case You Missed It: High expectations amid political crisis in Ukraine
Politics15:17 Jul. 15, 2016

In Case You Missed It: High expectations amid political crisis in Ukraine

Catch up on this week's developments: Trudeau brings FTA, Hahn promises visa-free travel, chaos still dominates Ukraine's parliament

This week has been a busy one for Ukraine. Early in the week two high-level officials came to Ukraine at the same time.

First was the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who visited the country for the first time ever.

During his visit Mr. Trudeau met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, other Ukrainian politicians and young leaders and reformers.

During his meeting at the Presidential administration, both leaders participated the official signing ceremony of Ukraine-Canada Free Trade Agreement.

First vice prime minister, minister for economic development and trade of Ukraine – Mr. Stepam Kubiv and Minister of International trade of Canada Khrystia Freeland will sign Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.

Following the signing of the agreement President Poroshenko and Prime Minter Trudeau delivered their statements: 

Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine: "Despite the great distance between our two countries, we always feel that Canada is standing by our side in the matters of reforming our country, as well as in matters of defending our sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our country."

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada: "Canada stands firmly besides Ukraine in response to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, as well as its support to insurgents in Eastern Ukraine. Canada is a partner in protecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Canada will always stand by Ukraine."

During his speech Canadian Prime-Minister also mentioned the benefits of the freshly signed agreement for both countries, namely – new jobs, new markets, which will contribute to the to the higher standard of living for our citizens in both countries.

Read also Ukraine and Canada ink memorandum on export support, trade and investment

In an exclusive interview to Ukraine Today, the mastermind behind the deal from the Ukrainian side – Ukraine's Trade Representative and deputy minister for economic development and trade of Ukraine discussed the deal in more detail.

Nataliya Mykolska, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, Trade Representative of Ukraine: "Major industries, which would benefit immediately, in short-term perspective, is food industry, agricultural industry, light industry – Ukrainian clothing and Ukrainian footwear, because they will have immediate duty-free access to the Canadian market. Plus we believe that Ukrainian machinery would benefit from this agreement."

My question: "But what about the Canadian businesses? What kind of Canadian industries will benefit mostly?"

Nataliya Mykolska, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, Trade Representative of Ukraine: "We believe that Canadian equipment producers, machinery producers that produce machinery with high level of know how would definitely benefit. Fish producers will also benefit from this agreement. Because of losing Crimea, Ukraine is in rather shortage of seafood. Not the river- or lake-fish, but seafood. Basically we all need good seafood."

But Justin Trudeau brought not only the good news about the free trade agreement. He also brought his extravagant socks.

Ukrainian media couldn't help, but notice the funky socks Prime-Minister Trudeau was wearing during the official meetings. Ukraine's president decided to play his part and at some point during the Q&A switched into French.

Justin Trudeau remained his charming self: "Next time you're gonna have to answer the French questions in French. You've spent a lot of time in Canada - it's wonderful to see you're working on our second official language."


Another high-profile guest was the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations – Mr. Johanes Hahn. Unlike Canadian Prime Minister, Commissioner Hahn is a frequent flyer to Kyiv and this time he brought some good news for those Ukrainians, who are waiting for the visa-free regime with the EU.

Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations: "Final decisions in term to grant visa liberalization finally, which is now in the parliament and in the council, but looking into the timetable, it should be possible to have a decision at the latest in October."

Mr. Hahn also praised the Ukrainian government for passing necessary laws to start some of the reforms, but stressed immediately that the EU would like to see their implementation as well. The EU commissioner reminded that the key priority areas remain the same: anticorruption, justice, prosecution and law enforcement, public administration, trade, energy. And finally Commissioner Hahn commented on the unstable political situation in Ukraine.

Read also EU Commissioner reveals major obstacle for foreign investors interested in Ukraine

Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations: "Abstain all these tendencies to have snap elections and so on. Whenever I arrive in Kyiv, I hear there might be soon elections and so on. This is something I believe is distracting from being focused on what is necessary to deliver."

Apparently, when making this statement, Commissioner Hahn did not check on the Ukrainian Parliament, which was again in chaos this week. Several parliament factions staged a sitting protest for the ruling coalition blocking an inquiry into the Panama Papers investigation. And the talks about early elections in fall started circling again.

Read also We Stand With Ukraine: Canada Trade Minister on historic Kyiv-Ottawa Free Trade deal

Despite the week-long chaos here in the parliament, the MPs were working hard passing the laws. Yet the crucial law on special appropriation of assets was taken off the agenda. The law would help Ukraine's authorities recover the assets stolen by former president Yanukovych and his allies. Still it was a productive week here in Ukraine, let's see what the next week in Ukraine will bring us. 

Volodymyr Solohub for Ukraine Today

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