16:40 29.11.2013

Merkel: If Ukraine 'has the courage' to take step towards Europe, EU will be reliable partner

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that if Ukraine "has the courage" to take a step towards Europe, the EU will be a reliable partner, and the EU, in turn, should "speak more strongly" with Russia.

"Ultimately it depends on Ukraine whether it has the courage to take another step towards Europe, and then the EU will be a reliable partner too," she told reporters after the Vilnius summit.

"But, of course, we have basic conditions. We cannot simply say now that none of this counts for Ukraine. The task for us as members of the EU also lies in speaking more strongly with Russia about how to get out of this either-or situation – either commitment to Russia, or commitment to the European Union."

Merkel said that a lot of effort had been made to ensure that the agreement was signed.

"The Ukrainian president has decided that he does not want this. The door to Europe remains open. We must continue to work. A difficult path is to be walked," she said.

She also described the initialing of Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova as "significant progress."

"When you see how, in part, pressure is being exerted on these countries through trade restrictions, then I also simply say that it is a very brave step. Of course, today we have not achieved what we wanted to achieve with Ukraine," she said.

When asked about the situation with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Merkel that her release, "unfortunately, is not in our hands, and [our] efforts have not led to any success."

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