Canada and the European Union have completed negotiations on a strategic partnership agreement on global issues including security, energy and the Arctic.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, announced the agreement at a press conference in Ottawa on Monday. Mr. Baird said the agreement is intended to outline a range of values that Canada and the EU share, including international peace and security, combatting terrorism and human rights.
Ms. Ashton said it would also contribute to deepening ties on energy, arctic, science and technology. The agreement is the first of its kind between the EU and a G7 nation.
The agreement must still undergo a legal review and be approved by the Canadian and European Parliaments before it comes into force.
Canadian and European negotiators finalized the text of a long-promised free trade deal earlier this summer, but the agreement has faced some opposition from within the European Parliament and neither leader would say how soon they expect the final text to be signed.
“There’s rarely unanimity on things of great consequence. We look forward to getting the agreement signed in short order and we look forward to the ratification process,” Mr. Baird said.
Ms. Ashton said she believes the negotiation has been among the EU’s most successful, adding that she believes it is natural to have some debate over such a large and important agreement. “Ensuring that we’ve got the details in good order is a big part of what we do,” she said.
The two leaders met in Ottawa several days after a ceasefire agreement took effect in eastern Ukraine on Friday evening. The agreement is part of a plan meant to bring an end to the five-month conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels in the region.
Mr. Baird said he hopes the current ceasefire in Ukraine will hold, but added, “After so much deception from the Russian Federation, we will judge them by their actions, not their words.”
He said Canada would push for additional sanctions against Russia if the conflict worsens.
“Obviously we want to see a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine. We remain deeply skeptical of the Russian Federation’s willingness to have a major de-escalation in this crisis, but let’s give a political solution a chance. Obviously if more provocation and more negative aspects emerge we would advocate strongly for additional measures.
Ms. Ashton said that the ceasefire agreement would be monitored on an “hour-by-hour” basis and noted that a diplomatic contact group monitoring the crisis in Ukraine would be meeting Monday night to discuss the matter further.
The European Union announced on Monday evening that it had adopted new sanctions against Russia that should come into effect in the coming days. President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said there would still be time to reconsider the new sanctions depending on the status of the ceasefire agreement.
Before the announcement, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Russia would respond “asymmetrically” to any new sanctions, including the possibility of targeting flights over Russia.
Russia has already banned meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy product imports from the EU, the U.S., Canada and others in retaliation for sanctions that were imposed by those countries.
Ukraine has accused Russia of providing weapons to the separatists in the country’s eastern region as well as thousands of troops, allegations that Moscow denies.
With a report from ReutersReport Typo/Error