Ukraine ready to sign EU trade deal ‘immediately’ - Poroshenko

Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko  (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)
Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko is ready to sign a deal establishing free trade between the EU and Ukraine, right after his inauguration on June 7. The agreement lies at the heart of the Ukraine crisis and he hopes it will help “restore peace".

"I'm ready to sign the economic part of the Association Agreement and to enter a free trade zone with the EU immediately after the inauguration," Poroshenko said during a meeting in Warsaw on Wednesday with Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

Kiev signed the political part of the trade agreement, which will break down barriers between Ukraine’s $145 billion economy and Europe’s nearly $17 trillion economy.

It had been reported that Poroshenko may be hesitant to sign the agreement, as he may need some time to address Ukraine’s desperate internal problems first, and not rush into foreign partnerships.

When Ukraine’s ex - President Viktor Yanukovich didn’t sign the agreement last November; the country erupted into mass protest, which was followed by violence and near civil war.

Ukraine’s President - elect said he wanted to defend “the aspiration for Euro-integration on the Maidan [Independence Square in the center of Kiev].”

“…and that is why I'm ready to sign the economic part of the association agreement and launch the free trade zone with the EU immediately after the inauguration," Poroshenko said as quoted by TASS.

"I ran for president with the slogans of peace and that is why I consider it necessary to establish peace in Ukraine," the government press office quoted Poroshenko as saying.

The crisis in Ukraine is one of the key topics at the G7 summit that kicked off Wednesday in Brussels and is being held without Russia for the first time in 17 years. Russia was suspended from the G8 over its course in Ukraine, which the West views as an effort to destabilize the former Soviet republic.

Among the other topics on the agenda are European energy supplies, which currently are heavily reliant on Russia. Leaders are also expected to discuss imposing further sanctions on Russia, which would be targeted to hit the economy, and would be the third round.