In an exclusive interview with IRAS a local news website in Iran, Peter Stano, the Spokesman for the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle, has discussed the commissioner's stance on the recent conflict in Ukraine's relations with the EU and Russia.
-Why Ukraine leaders’ decisions on refuse to sign a political and economic agreement with the European Union turn violence in this Country?
- This question is not for the European Commission to answer, the answer needs to be given in Kiev. We have condemned the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on Saturday morning and called for restraint. Any unjustified use of force against people who are peacefully expressing their views is against European and international standards. We have also stressed that differences must be resolved peacefully and urged immediate dialogue of all political stakeholders to find a way out of the current situation.
- Does the recent violence Ukraine have foreign sources?
Again, this is not for us to tell. It is up to the Ukrainian authorities to investigate those who are responsible for violence. But there is one fact – the vast majority of those in the streets are peaceful Ukrainian citizens expressingin a strong and unprecedented manner their support for Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the EU.
- What are Russia's main reasons to improve relations with its neighbors?
It is in the interest of everyone to have good relations with the neighbours. This creates stability and continues to prosperity. Russia is a strategic partner for the European Union and we want to use fully the potential of our relations. And we encourage our neighbours to maintain and strengthen their relations with Russia. We do not see any contradiction in this. Our relations with our neighbours in the Eastern Europe do not go at the expense of Russia. For us the relations with the neighbours are not a zero sum game. It is a win-win situation for all.
- Why does the EU condemn Russia on Ukraine's decision to refuse signing a political and economic agreement with the European Union?
The Ukrainian President and government explained their decision to pause the preparations for the signature of the Association Agreement with the consequences of the unilateral trade and economic measures introduced by Russia against Ukraine. We consider such measures as unjustified. We said that any kind of outside pressure on our Eastern European partners because of their wish to develop closer political and economic relations with the EU, is unacceptable. As President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said in Vilnius on Friday: "times of limited sovereignty are over.” Countries must be free to make their own political and economic choices without outside interference. And there cannot be outside interference into our bilateral relations with the partners.
- How is Ukraine important to make the EU and Russia stand against each other?
We do not stand against Russia and we keep stressing that our policy towards the countries of the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine)is not directed against Russia, it does not go at the expense of Russia and there is absolutely no reason why this should be perceived as some kind of competition or threat against Russia. One must not forget that whatever we do with our Eastern neighbours is not pushing them somewhere they do not want to be but we only responds to their clear wish to develop a closer cooperation and relations with the EU.
- How do you evaluate this situation and what is your prediction about Ukraine's future?
Ukraine is an important neighbour and our aim remains to sign the Association agreement because it will bring us closer politically and will create conditions for economic integration. This will be beneficialfor Ukrainians as well as for the EU. This agreement is an instrument of modernisation and will bring more European standards, both political and economic, to Ukraine – it will enhance fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, strengthen the rule of law, the independence of judiciary, reform the economy, improve the business and investment environment, bring better consumer protection etc. As far as we are concerned, the door for Ukraine to sign this agreement remains open once the conditions are right. And our Ukrainian partners stressed that they eventually want to sign this agreement too.