CARL BILDT ON THE EU AND UKRAINE: ‘SLIGHTLY PESSIMISTIC’

Radio Free Europe on November 5, 2013, published an interview with Sweden’s former Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt. The European Union’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius is just weeks away, on November 28-29. RFE/RL correspondent Rikard Jozwiak spoke with longtime international diplomat and former Swedish Prime Minister (current Foreign Minister) Carl Bildt about what to expect.

RFE/RL: In the final Vilnius Declaration, do you envision more expansive wording, such as giving some Eastern Partnership countries a European Perspective (in other words, a path to membership without a specific timeframe) instead of just acknowledging their European aspirations?

Carl Bildt: Let’s see. It is still work in progress. I think it would be difficult to get all of the [EU] member states to go much further. That has to do with the fact that progress in some of the Eastern Partnership countries has been rather slow.

RFE/RL: Looking ahead to the next Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga 2015, what should be the goal? Will we see some of these countries becoming potential EU candidate countries?

Bildt: [It’s] too early to talk about that. Riga is two years in the future. Much can happen. I hope that much will happen, by the way, [before] Riga, but exactly where we will be at that time, I don’t know. But I do think that what we should do between Vilnius and Riga is to look at what further steps we can take in terms of economic integration for those countries that are willing and able to do so.

RFE/RL: The Ukrainian government has started legal action in the United States and Switzerland to recover assets allegedly obtained through fraudulent means by former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko — with the implication that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was also involved in money laundering in the West. How serious are the accusations in your view?

Bildt: I don’t know. I have no information to make it possible for me to assess anything of what they are doing. But of course there has been, fairly obviously, an attempt to throw as many accusations as possible against [Tymoshenko] from certain circles. That we have seen.

RFE/RL: Are you still confident that Ukraine will sign the [EU] association agreement in Vilnius?

Bildt: No I am not. I have never been confident in that because it is very much touch and go and it is dependent upon what the [former European Parliament President Pat] Cox and [former Polish President Aleksander] Kwasniewski mission [to Ukraine] is going to report to us on the 14th [of November]. Then we are going to assess that as we come to the [EU] Foreign Affairs Council on the 18th [of November]. But I would not put too much money on anything at the moment. If I have any assessment it is rather on the slightly pessimistic side.

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