The European Union said it would reward Ukraine with funds to overhaul its economy if the former Soviet republic signs an EU trade pact and taps International Monetary Fund financing.
As Russia and the West tussled over Ukraine’s future, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said a decision by Ukraine to embrace European trade ties would trigger “bigger and bigger” financial assistance. He gave no figures.
“The faster Ukraine clarifies its intentions, the faster we can both start and finish our work,” Fule told a Brussels news conference with Ukraine First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov. The EU will add to any IMF aid to avert a “looming financial crisis” in Ukraine, he said.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who triggered the biggest street protests in nearly a decade by pulling out of planned EU association and trade accords last month. The EU offer, Russia’s bid to absorb its neighbor into a rival customs union and a planned Dec. 15 demonstration by Ukraine’s pro-European opposition put the spotlight back on the leader.
EU countries are Ukraine’s biggest donors, having provided more than 2.5 billion euros ($3.4 billion) since 1991, according to the website of the EU’s delegation in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. Fule said the EU would top up IMF aid and provide separate funds to help modernize Ukraine’s economy if the trade pact goes ahead.
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