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    European Council to Continue Free Trade Area Discussion With Ukraine

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    The European Council stated that it would continue to discuss the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement with Ukraine.

    RUSSELS (Sputnik) – The European Council said it would continue to discuss the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) agreement with Ukraine, as well as energy issues.

    "[The European Council] will continue efforts in the trilateral processes on energy and EU-Ukraine DCFTA implementation," the Council said on Thursday.

    The DCFTA is part of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

    According to the European Commission, the DCFTA will provide Ukraine with a framework for modernizing its trade relations and for economic development through the removal of tariff and quotas and opening markets.

    In 2013, the Ukrainian president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, decided against signing the Association Agreement with the European Union. He was ousted in a coup in February 2014.

    The EU-association deal was then signed by the new government, but the establishment of a free trade area was suspended until 2016 following talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.

    The European Council also noted that the European Union is committed to strengthening its relations with six Eastern European partners.

    "The EU is fully committed to the Eastern Partnership. It will strengthen, in a differentiated way, relations with each of its six partners. Particular efforts should be devoted to advance cooperation in state building, mobility and people-to-people contacts, market opportunities and interconnections," the Council said Thursday.

    The Eastern Partnership initiative involves Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

    The Council also said that it looked forward to the earliest possible ratification by all EU member states of the Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

    Ukraine-EU association has caused concerns from Moscow, with Russian authorities saying that it could result in an uncontrolled flow of duty-free goods from the EU to the Russian market.

    On March 3, Russian Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev said that if Moscow's concerns are not taken into account, Russia would have to take protective measures, including the introduction or toughening of customs tariffs on Ukrainian goods.

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