Russia unable to keep zero customs fees if Ukraine and EU sign AA – Putin

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President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he hopes Moscow will manage to bring its concerns to Ukraine and the EU over Kiev’s plans to sign the economic section of an Association Agreement (AA) with the EU when the negotiating parties hold consultations. “This doesn’t have anything to do with politics or with the options one or another state selects because each sovereign state has the right to choose its original pathway,” he said.

“We agreed on the start of consultations at the level of experts,” he recalled, voicing hope that they would be held at the level of department chiefs and would raise to a ministerial level somewhat later.

“I hope these contacts will begin and we’ll be able to show in detail what the subject of our concerns is,” Putin said as he addressed a conference on agriculture.

He repeated once again what kind of a threat the AA between the EU and Ukraine was posing for Russia. “If specific economic problems arise we won’t be able to keep the zero rate for import customs fees,” ITAR-TASS cited him as saying.

He clarified that he had in mind agricultural produce, in the first place, adding: “This doesn’t have anything to do with politics or with the options one or another state selects because each sovereign state has the right to choose its original pathway.”

Along with it, Putin stressed Russia’s right to defend its own economic interests. This does not concern agriculture alone, Putin said. The manufacturing sector will also be involved.

“The problem requires a systemic approach and that’s what we’ll be doing,” he said.

Putin and Barroso agree to hold trilateral consultations

Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to hold consultations between Russia, EU and Ukraine on the expert and ministerial levels in the context of the forthcoming signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the Kremlin press-service said.

Putin and Barroso exchanged views on issues related to the situation in Ukraine as well as the payment of debt for Russian natural gas by Kiev and the planning conclusion of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, RIA Novosti reports. “It was also understood to hold consultations between Russia, the EU and Ukraine on the expert and ministerial levels in the context of the forthcoming EU-Ukraine Association Agreement”, it was said in a statement.

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