EU ministers say ball is in Ukraine`s court

European Union foreign ministers on Monday reiterated the bloc`s willingness to strike a historic partnership deal with Ukraine, but said the ball clearly was in Kiev`s court.

AFP| Updated: Dec 16, 2013, 15:44 PM IST

Brussels: European Union foreign ministers on Monday reiterated the bloc`s willingness to strike a historic partnership deal with Ukraine, but said the ball clearly was in Kiev`s court.
"We of course want that Ukraine signs the association agreement, there is still some hope for that," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on arriving for talks in Brussels with his 27 EU counterparts.

"If there`s a clear message from Kiev we`re ready to sign tomorrow," said Sweden`s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a key player in years of efforts to sign a political and free trade deal with Ukraine that would bring the nation a step closer to the West.

Ministers one after the other urged Ukraine to resist pressure from Russia to turn east rather than west a day after the EU`s Enlargement Commission Stefan Fuele said Brussels was halting talks on how to implement the deal failing clarity from Kiev.

"The EU door remains open but clearly they`re not able to walk through it," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"It`s important they`re able to without pressure," Hague added, saying that closer links between Ukraine and the 28-nation bloc would be in the interests of eastern Europe, including Russia.

The ministers later Monday are to lunch with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.