Minister for Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino met today in Rome with Foreign Minister of Ukraine Leonid Kozhara. Their discussions centred on the status of bilateral relations, with an exchange of views on prospects for the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU and the agenda of the Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius on 28 November.
Regarding bilateral relations, Minister Bonino informed her Ukrainian colleague of Italy’s wish to welcome President Janukovic to Italy in early 2014. Regarding economic ties – which place Italy as Ukraine’s top EU customer, with 4 billion euro in trade in 2012, as well as 12th investor – the two ministers agreed on the need to adopt measures to improve the climate for investors in Ukraine; this latter topic will also be treated during the next session of the Italo-Ukraine Economic, Industrial and Financial Cooperation Council to be held in early 2014, which will have a major impact on Ukraine’s successful pursuance of its European prospects.
The two ministers also discussed Ukraine’s position regarding the signing of an Association Agreement and on an agreement for the establishment of a free trade area, which will the main topic at the Vilnius summit. With this in mind, Minister Bonino encouraged the Kiev government to pursue reforms with determination and constancy, underscoring the urgency of carefully ensuring compliance with Europe’s requirements in the areas of justice, electoral laws, police reform, anti-corruption laws, trade regulations and, above all, improvement of the business climate. Minister Kozhara reported that the Ukrainian parliament would shortly be approving several reform provisions in the areas of electoral and penal laws, as well as one aimed at simplifying the implementation of alternatives to prison in the case of prisoner health impediments.
Finally, the two ministers agreed fully on the equal importance of the eastern and southern dimensions of neighborhood policy.