- Title: Ukraine's Poroshenko to hear some praise, calls to do more at summit with EU
- Date: 24th November 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (RECENT - NOVEMBER 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF EUROPEAN COUNCIL
- Embargoed: 9th December 2016 10:42
- Keywords: Ukraine crisis EU Poroshenko Tusk Schulz Juncker visa trade
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00159T0E2V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: European Union leaders were expected to praise Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday (November 24) for his reform efforts but behind the scenes the EU is losing patience over Kiev's slow fight against corruption and the intractable conflict in the country's east.
Three years after a pro-EU uprising overthrew Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Poroshenko will be in Brussels for an EU-Ukraine summit where he will be told he must do more to earn closer relations with the bloc.
EU leaders will applaud Poroshenko for carrying out some energy, economic and police reforms under these difficult circumstances. But corruption remains rife in Ukraine, with a crony culture that tacitly allowed bureaucrats to amass wealth.
A key reform obliging officials to declare their wealth recently revealed they hold millions of dollars in cash, have fleets of luxury cars, expensive Swiss watches, diamond jewellery and large tracts of land.
The shock revelations not only upset the EU but also undermined Poroshenko's backing at home.
The EU has also dragged its feet on granting visa-free travel to Ukraine, mainly due to hesitation from Germany and France, which both face elections next year in which increasing anti-immigration feeling will be a burning issue.
"We are ready. We prepared everything, we anticipated even the votes in the relevant committees, on visa liberalisation on one hand and on the so-called suspension mechanism. Everything which is pending in pending here, in the Council, not in the European Parliament, and I hope that the member states will find a solution," European Parliament President Martin Schulz told reporters upon arrival.
Brussels says Ukraine's exports to the EU rose 5.2 percent since an agreement on closer political and trade relations entered force at the start of this year.
But the future of that partnership is uncertain after Dutch voters rejected it in a referendum earlier this year.
While the pact is being provisionally applied, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is hoping to negotiate extra legal assurances by mid-December - stating among other things that EU states are not obliged to prop up Kiev financially or grant employment to Ukrainian citizens - that would allow his parliament to override the negative referendum result.
"What I want to discuss today also is the solutions in The Netherlands. We have the association agreement not yet ratified in The Netherlands, we have the referendum. So I think we should not only discuss about visa liberalisation but also about the putting in force of the association agreement," Schulz said.
The former Soviet republic's aspirations to closer relations with the West have exacted a high cost.
Scores were killed during clashes between protesters and Ukrainian security forces. Shortly after President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and went on to back a pro-Russian insurgency in east Ukraine.
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