Brussels: The European Union and Ukraine took a symbolically-charged first step towards closer economic and political ties on Friday, with the signing of a key part of a wide-ranging historic partnership deal.
Known as the `EU-Ukraine Association Agreement,` the final deal will cover issues ranging from economic integration, judicial reform and consumer rights to trade and environmental protection.
However, the signing on the part of EU leaders and Ukraine`s interim government was limited to three of seven chapters in the 1200-page document, as well as its preamble.
The inked chapters were:
- Chapter 1, which sets out the deal`s philosophical underpinnings, including respect for democratic principles and human rights, good governance, a free market economy.
- Chapter 2, referred to as the "political" chapter of the agreement, sets out the terms of future political dialogue between the EU and Ukraine, establishing an `Association Council.`
- Chapter 7 covers the day-to-day mechanics of the relationship and the circumstances in which leaders would meet.
Leaders also signed a preamble, which identifies Ukraine as, among other things, a "European" country sharing a common history with EU member states.
Not surprisingly, the more controversial parts of the deal will require more time and greater levels of political legitimacy on the part of the Ukrainians. The country will hold presidential elections on May 25 - until then, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is leading the government.
Still awaiting signing are, for example, Chapters 4 and 5, covering the sensitive issue of trade and economic integration with the European Union`s internal market, while the chapter dealing with justice is also on the backburner.
However, even before the agreement was signed, the EU has already thrown some economic sweeteners Ukraine`s way, including trade breaks worth 500 million euros ($700 million) a year.