Jean-Claude Juncker announced £500 million of aid funding for Ukraine today
The EU Commission president confirmed that Kiev has fulfilled all of the democratic reforms required of it by eurocrats, unlocking the last instalment of a £2.6bn development pot.
Grateful Ukrainian prime minister Volodymyr Groysman then sprang a surprise on the EU chief, presenting him with a plaque of the logo for this year’s Eurovision finals which will take place in Kiev.
As Mr Juncker watched on awkwardly Kiev’s leader invited him to attend the annual song contest on May 13, remarking that it is 20 years since the Brussels boss has visited his country.
The chief eurocrat then joked: “I am totally incapable to announce that at the very beginning of the Eurovision contest the prime minister and myself will offer a duo to the entire world because he is totally unable to sing.”
The Kiev leader invited the Brussels boss to this year's Eurovision finals
The pair also discussed visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens
This afternoon the pair discussed the war in eastern Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia in 2014, and ways to curb Vladimir Putin’s aggression as well as visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens.
The latter is a thorny issue for Brussels following the result of a referendum in the Netherlands, held last Spring, in which Dutch voters roundly rejected granting Ukraine visa-free access to the Schengen zone.
In a press conference this afternoon Mr Juncker said that the Ukrainian government had fulfilled its commitments to Brussels after introducing a bill to parliament to repeal a ban on wood exports.
Having watched the reform effort of Ukraine, Ukrainians have the right to see something in return
EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker
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He said: “Ukraine is realising in the last two or three years reforms of a greater magnitude than those which were realised during 20 years before.
“Having watched the reform effort of Ukraine, Ukrainians have the right to see something in return.
“We are supporting Ukraine not only in its conflict of Russia but more generally.”
He confirmed that the cash will be disbursed “within the coming weeks” and issued a barb to Russia warning it to “respect the sovereignty” of Ukraine.
EXPLOSIVE: American tanks FIRE towards Russia
Fri, January 20, 2017
Heavily-armed US military personnel were rushed to Poland’s border with Russia to warn Vladimir Putin against another Ukrainian-style land grab.
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A round is fired from an M1A2 Main Battle Tank belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during the first Live Fire Accuracy Screening Tests at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland
Addressing reporters Mr Groysman said his country’s partnership with the EU was vital to its future, and added that the cash will cover the cost of economy boosting measures such as raising the minimum wage.
He said: “It is very important that our citizens can feel these changes give a positive result and improve their lives.
“This is a very important support for us in these difficult conditions.”
Referring to fighting in Avdiivka, just north of Donetsk, which broke out last week he added: “We saw the large scale tragedy when Russian militants were shelling completely defenceless civilian town where 25,000 people live.
“This is a town that lived a completely peaceful life but the shelling and the destruction of the electricity infrastructure led to a very trying time for the residents.”