Czech foreign minister pledges support for Ukraine and EU association agreement

Pavel Klimkin, Lubomír Zaorálek, photo: CTK

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavel Klimkin on Tuesday, expressed strong support for the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, a day before it was due to be discussed in the Czech Chamber of Deputies. While the agreement should be ratified easily in the lower house, the move was temporarily delayed by the opposition communists.

Pavel Klimkin,  Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: CTK
With the conflict in eastern Ukraine in the news daily and the future direction of the country questioned, the importance of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement – laying the foundations for greater political and economic cooperation – has not lessened. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek on Tuesday made clear that Prague remains dedicated both to the agreement and to helping Ukraine.

“I would like to remind everyone that it is in the interests of the Czech Republic for Ukraine to be stable and to be economically and politically consolidated and a country where violence has come to an end. From this very spot I have called on Russia repeatedly to come to the negotiating table to stop trying to influence the situation in Ukraine. And I want to remind our lawmakers… that the association agreement is a tool which should help bring peace and stability to the country.”

His counterpart, Pavel Klimkin, thanked the Czech Republic and the EU for pushing for Russia to fully respect the Minsk ceasefire agreement, even though it hasn’t fully happened yet. He pointed out that every day people are still dying in eastern Ukraine. Minsk, together with the association agreement, are ways forward, the minister stressed.

Few doubt that the agreement, already passed in a majority of member states, will pass in the Czech Republic as well. Jakub Janda, an analyst for the Prague-based think tank European Values, discussed both the situation in Ukraine and the role of the agreement for the country in the years ahead.

Illustrative photo: Czech Television
“Peace has to come from the Russian side since they support the rebels and anything to do with that has to come from the Kremlin. Regarding the past and accession to the EU that will take many, many years. What the association agreement provides is more of a roadmap for Ukraine and for future administrations.

“What the country needs is to get on a European track of state administration and governing model. It’s not only about EU membership but a functional state that has to be adjusted on a yearly basis. The agreement provides a roadmap for the government and the people as well on how to become a civilised European country which could be thinking – eventually – about EU membership.”