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Ukrainian, European Parliaments ratify Association deal

The parliaments of Ukraine and the European Union simultaneously ratified Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU Tuesday.

The Verkhovna Rada approved the bill by 355 lawmakers with the required minimum of 226 “yes” votes.

The Ukrainian president signed the ratification deal immediately after and told the government to prepare implementation bill for the agreement by Wednesday.

MEPs backed the agreement with 535 votes in favour, 127 against and 35 abstentions.

“Through this ratification, Ukraine’s European choice will be institutionalized and will bind the futures of the EU and Ukraine together. Ukrainian society has paid the highest price for its European aspirations, grieving the deaths of numerous people, suffering territorial occupation by Russia and experiencing deteriorating economic conditions. With this ratification, the EU gives Ukraine the strongest sign of support, despite the regrettable proposal to delay implementation of the agreement” said rapporteur Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP, PL) before the vote

He added that the agreement was “not a definitive goal of EU-Ukraine relations” and stressed that the common future of the EU and Ukraine must now be protected from Russian aggression by introducing “increasingly heavy sanctions until the cost for Russia will be too high to sustain its policy.”

“This is an historic moment”, said EP President Martin Schulz in his address to MPs in the Strasbourg and Kiev chambers via a video link. “The two parliaments freely determined to vote today at the same time on this agreement. This is free democracy, the opposite of directed democracy. The European Parliament has always defended the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and will continue to do so”, he added.

The deal provides both for a political association and for free trade. The political provisions take Ukraine one step closer to the EU, by opening new channels for political dialogue and establishing ground rules for cooperation in areas such as energy, transport, and education. It requires Ukraine to implement reforms and respect democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law.

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