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Ukraine Signs Pact with European Union

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shows the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement to lawmakers after its signing it in parliament in Kiev, Ukraine Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Ukraine's parliament ratified an agreement to deepen economic and political ties with the European Union on Tuesday, and passed legislation to grant autonomy to the rebellious east as part of a peace deal. (AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko)

The Ukrainian parliament has voted to ratify its Association Agreement with the European Union.

The Ukrainian parliament has voted to ratify its Association Agreement with the European Union. Once fully implemented, the agreement will open up trade between Europe and Ukraine, while encouraging a reform agenda in Ukraine that mirrors EU legislation. Ukraine currently enjoys unilateral trade preferences with the EU based on its Association Agreement.

Ukraine Signs Pact with European Union
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The United States congratulates the people of Ukraine on this historic vote. “By forging ahead with this Agreement in the face of great challenges,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, “Ukraine’s leaders have carried out the will of the Ukrainian people, who demonstrated their overwhelming support for further integration with Europe last winter and with their votes in the May 25 presidential elections.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the parliamentary vote a “first but very decisive step” toward bringing Ukraine into the European Union. He said Ukrainians who died in protests and the eastern fighting “have died not only for their motherland. They gave up their lives for us to take a dignified place among the European family.” More than three-thousand people have died in fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russia-backed separatists.

The United States also applauds the Ukrainian parliament’s passage of the laws on Amnesty and Special Status for select parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, which were two important commitments Ukraine made in the Minsk ceasefire agreement of September 5. These new laws highlight the Ukrainian government’s continuing commitment to resolve the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine peacefully.

The United States calls on Russia to implement its own commitments. Russia must withdraw its forces, weapons and equipment from Ukraine; Russia must do its part to secure and respect the international border between the two countries; it must ensure that all hostages are released; and it must support the implementation of a buffer zone along both sides of the border, monitored by the OSCE. Russia must also prevail on separatists to stop violating the ceasefire.

“The way is open for peace,” said Spokesperson Harf, “but it is now incumbent on Russia and the separatists it supports to honor their ceasefire commitments and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”