"The future of relations between Ukraine and the European Union depends on the latter," Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said in a live TV interview on Friday.
"It depends on the stance of the European Commission and the European Union," Azarov said when asked about the prospects for signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the format of future relations. "Kyiv proposed holding talks in a trilateral format: Ukraine-Russia-EU. Russia has agreed to this format. Now the matter depends on the European Commission," he said, adding that Ukraine would sign the Association Agreement with the EU if a mechanism to compensate for possible economic losses were in place. Azarov slammed the European Union for showing no interest in the modernization of the Ukrainian gas transmission system (GTS), saying, "This gas pipeline system, if modernized, could transport annually 100 and even 150 billion cubic meters of gas, fully satisfying Europe's needs. Unfortunately, Ukraine has to finance the modernization of its GTS single-handedly. This system is of strategic importance to Europe, so I don't understand why the Europeans show no interest in it." Azarov further said that the government would spend the bulk of the 15-billion-dollar loan from Russia on industrial modernization projects. According to him, the sharp increase in public utilities tariffs and deep devaluation of the national currency hryvnya recommended by the International Monetary Fund would lead to catastrophic consequences. "The IMF says it would lend us a loan on condition of deep devaluation of the hryvnya. This means the prices of all imported products would soar. So would the prices of all foodstuffs," Azarov said. Last Friday he said that if Ukraine had signed the Association Agreement with the EU in November and done as demanded by the IMF, the country would have gone broke.