While urging Ukraine to review the conviction of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, MEPs also argue that the association agreement could serve as a lever to bring about the changes needed in the country.
The 9-page Parliament resolution, based on a draft by Polish MEP Ryszard Antoni Legutko (European Conservatives and Refortmists), stresses that the deepening of relations between the EU and Ukraine is in the interests of both parties.
It warns however against the selective use of justice and urges Kyiv to respect human rights and the rule of law. Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders should be allowed to participate fully in politics, the resolution says.
In case Ukraine breaches fundamental principles, MEPs say it should be possible to suspend the agreement temporarily. They also call on Kyiv to make the former communist secret service archives public.
MEPs also advise the European Council and the Commission to reschedule the recently postponed meeting with President Yanukovych, ahead of the EU-Ukraine Summit in on 19 December.
The Resolution states that Ukraine is a European state and that, pursuant to Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty, the country may apply for EU membership provided that it adheres to the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, minority rights and the rule of law.
Country of 'strategic importance'
Ukraine is a country of strategic importance to the EU, whereas Ukraine’s size, resources, population and geographical location give it a distinctive position in Europe, making it a key regional actor which exerts considerable influence on the security, stability and prosperity of the whole continent, MEPs stress.
Ukraine should be commended for its sound economic performance, including the reduction of its budget deficit, spending restraint and pension reform, which have contributed to a better foreign credit rating and increased foreign direct investment, the resolution reads.
The Parliament also stresses that Russia is exerting excessive pressure on Ukraine not to establish a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU but instead to join a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This is unprecedented in the history of the EU’s relations with external partners, MEPs note.
Referring to the controversial changes to the country's constitution and electoral law, the Parliament said it would endeavour to assist the Ukrainian authorities in this effort along the lines of the Venice Commission and the Organisation for Security and Coopeartion in Europe (OSCE), with the involvement of both opposition parties and civil society.
The Council of Europe has recently criticised Kyiv, regretting that the country had neglected its recommendations and pushed its own agenda. The biggest concern relate to changes in the electoral system which the Council of Europe says are designed to favour the ruling majority.
On energy security, MEPs call for action to improve the situation through the introduction of bilateral mechanisms to provide early warnings.
Without going into detail, MEPs vowed to develop specific instruments to support Ukraine’s civil society, given its vital role in the democratisation process, for instance in raising awareness and increasing social and political participation.