Berlin, Jul 1: Ukraine will join the EU within the next decade, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said today, adding that his country still believed strongly in the bloc despite Britain's vote to leave.
Groysman told Germany's Funke media group that Ukraine saw its future in the West and hailed an association agreement with the EU as a "driving force" behind reforms in Kiev.
"I am convinced that Ukraine will be in the EU in 10 years," he said. "We are going the European way and that means for us: freedom, human rights and a strong economy." Groysman said he regretted the "Brexit" referendum outcome. "I respect the right of a sovereign state to take such a decision," he said.
"But I still think that achievements should be protected." He said closer ties with the EU were an impetus for Ukraine to tackle corrosive problems such as corruption. "We must align our standards with those of the EU," he said.
The EU's landmark trade and political association agreement with Ukraine has been at the heart of the crisis in the country since the 2014 toppling of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych, who had rejected the deal. Russia annexed the territory of Crimea shortly afterwards and the EU imposed sweeping economic sanctions against Moscow, while pursuing the pact with the new government in Kiev.
But there has been growing unease in Brussels at the slow pace of reforms in Kiev and the volatile political situation following the resignation of embattled prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his replacement by the pro-Western parliament speaker Groysman in April.