European Union expands sanctions list over Russia’s annexation of Crimea

The European Council has agreed to expand the list of individuals subject to a travel ban and asset freeze because of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea, a statement by the European Union’s leaders early in the morning of March 21 2014.

The expansion adds 12 names to the list of 21 agreed a few days ago.

The next EU-Russia summit has been cancelled and individual EU countries will not hold bilateral summits with Russia for the time being, the statement said.

EU leaders said that they supported the suspension of negotiations on Russia joining the OECD and IEA.

The European Council also “expressed support” for the G7 meeting in The Hague next week – a reference to the fact that a planned G8 summit, which would have included Russia, has been cancelled, with German chancellor Angela Merkel having said that “the G8 no longer exists”.

The European Union, its member states and Ukraine will sign the political provisions of the Association Agreement, the statement said. This was expected to happen on March 21.

The European Union and its member states are committed to sign the remainder of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which together with the political provisions constitute a single instrument, the statement said.

The European Council agreed that the first meeting in the political dialogue as envisaged under the Agreement should take place in April.

“The European Council urges the Council and the European Parliament to swiftly adopt the proposal for temporarily removing customs duties, so called Autonomous Trade measures, on Ukrainian exports to the European Union.”

European Council President Herman van Rompuy, speaking after the March 20 session of the council, said: “Since we met two weeks ago, events have continued to unfold. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol is a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and of international law.

“We strongly condemn the unconstitutional referendum in Crimea; we will not recognise it, nor will we recognise the annexation. There is no place for the use of force and coercion to change borders on the European continent in the 21st century.”

Failure to settle the crisis peacefully and any steps by Russia to destabilise Ukraine would have far-reaching consequences, Van Rompuy said.

“And by that we mean consequences on relations in a broad range of economic areas. We ask the Commission and the member states to prepare possible targeted measures. We are seeing that the shadow of sanctions is already having an effect on Russia’s investment climate,” he said.

European Commission President Jose Barroso said that it had been decided to proceed with a Commission proposal to provide a further billion euro macro financial assistance, which would bring EU overall support to 1.6 billion euro.

This, along with opening EU markets to Ukrainian products, was important along with the signing of the Association Agreement, Barroso said.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)




The Sofia Globe staff

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