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Leigh Turner: First of all it’s important to distinguish between the three stages of approving the Association Agreement. The first stage is to initial the agreement. If both sides work very hard and, in particular, if we can agree an acceptable formulation on whether or not and when Ukraine might join the European Union, it’s possible that we could have the initialling before the end of the year. So then it might be possible to conclude the negotiations. That would be a good thing.

But the Association Agreement won’t enter into force and will have a zero effect on Ukraine, until it is signed. So being signed is the second stage. That will definitely not happen for at least six months after the negotiations are concluded. And in order for that to happen, all the Member States of the European Union must decide that Ukraine is a democratic country and is working in a democratic way. So it will be great if we can initial the agreement before the end of the year, but what we really need to do is to get in signed, so it begins to work.

After it’s signed, it has to be ratified. So the third stage is the ratification, and that has to be done by the parliaments of the EU Member States and the European Parliament. The EU Member States will ratify the agreement only if they are confident that Ukraine can play by the rules of the European Union.

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