European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has cited “corruption” as the main factor hampering the European Union
’s efforts to build trade ties with Ukraine.
Kiev must “fight against corruption, because corruption is undermining all the efforts this great nation is undertaking,” Juncker said on Thursday in a joint press conference after meeting with President Petro Poroshenko over the final ratification of a new trade pact between the EU and Ukraine.
Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk were in Kiev to attend a summit to review the new trade pact with Poroshenko, who vowed to make all efforts to strengthen bonds with the EU.
Poroshenko’s pro-EU government has been boosting relations with the bloc ever since the ouster of the pro-Russia former President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
While full EU membership for Ukraine has not been achieved, Poroshenko’s government has implemented all EU-styled reforms in exchange for billions of dollars in aid and a new visa-free travel deal with the EU.
The new trade pact, however, has raised ire in Russia. Moscow is wary of NATO’s military buildup on its backyards as well as the West’s aggressive bid to expand influence in Eastern Europe
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by Reuters)
Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.
The EU and the United States accuse Russia of destabilizing Ukraine but Moscow rejects having any hand in the crisis.