KIEV (AFP) - A summit between top European Union officials and Ukraine’s leaders will take place in Kiev at the end of April, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko announced on Saturday.
The summit comes amid a shaky ceasefire between Kiev forces and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, which came into force on Feb 15.
During a phone conversation with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, “the parties... confirmed that the Ukraine-EU summit would be held on April 27,” said a statement on Poroshenko’s official website.
The holding of annual summits was set down in the association agreement signed by the EU and Kiev’s pro-western government after it came to power in June 2014.
That followed the fall of the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who left the country following three months of bloody protests sparked by his decision to suspend preparations for the signing of the EU agreement.
Juncker was due in Kiev on Monday, but has cancelled the trip due to “unforeseen health conditions,” Poroshenko’s office said.
The Commission president had undergone a minor operation to treat kidney stones, according to his spokesman.
AID IN EXCHANGE FOR REFORM
The April summit is expected to address Poroshenko’s request for European peacekeepers to help monitor the truce between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels, aimed at ending nearly a year of fighting.
Officials will also discuss a possible aid boost for Ukraine’s struggling economy, the statement said.
The European Parliament on Wednesday formally approved new economic aid worth 1.8 billion euros (S$2.7 billion) for Ukraine, two-thirds of which could be disbursed by the end of the 2015.
The EU cash was offered as part of an International Monetary Fund programme aimed at mobilising up to US$40 billion (S$55 billion).
The IMF has already approved a US$17.5 billion loan as part of the package in exchange for the government’s successful implementation of economic, budget and monetary reforms.
This week, a powerful oligarch widely credited for helping halt the rebel advance lost his job as a regional governor following a row over his role at two state oil companies. Two top officials were also arrested for corruption on live TV at a government meeting.
Both Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk are expected to attend the Kiev summit, as well as EU heads of state and government, according to reports.
Brussels has also imposed heavy economic sanctions on Moscow, which is accused of sending weapons and troops in support of the pro-Russian rebels.
Moscow has denied any such involvement in the conflict that has cost more than 6,000 lives since April.
EU leaders have stressed that the sanctions will stay in place unless there is clear evidence that the ceasefire, brokered by French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was being observed.