Parliament members visit Ukraine, insist that government cuts corruption

MEP Laima Andrikiene speaks during visit to Ukraine with Michael Gahler (R) and an interpreter, in Kiev on 6 April 2018. [Arturo Escarda/EFE]

A European Parliament delegation visited Ukraine last week and pinpointed an urgent need for the country to tackle corruption and make significant headway towards democratisation. EURACTIV’s media partner efe-epa reports.

The delegation, led by Laima Andrikiene from Lithuania and also including Michael Gahler and Dariusz Rosati, visited the eastern European country to assess a plan to provide Ukraine with an additional €1 billion as part of an EU macro-financial assistance package.

“Fighting corruption is the way to open doors to foreign investors, to create a reliable business environment, to bring new economic opportunities to Ukraine,” Andrikiene said.

The EU signed an Association Agreement with Ukraine that has been in force since September and the delegation reinforced its recommendations to tackle corruption.

Andrikiene, of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), led the delegation of the Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs that had earlier also visited Moldova, another former Soviet republic.

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Gahler, from Germany, agreed that corruption needed to be rooted out, saying it was one of the country’s principal concerns.

“Some continue to live in poverty while there are others who have become rich thanks to corruption over many years,” Gahler said to EFE.

Gahler lauded some reforms undertaken by the government in Kiev but expressed disappointment with the time taken by the parliament to approve certain laws, which he blamed on interests that prefer to delay or block the legislation.

In his opinion, Ukraine lacked authentic reforms in its justice system that would provide for the immediate and stern action against the corrupt.

Andrikiene further stressed that the country’s parliament should approve anti-corruption legislation, while acknowledging the difficulty of having to operate under military aggression from Russia.

“We want to see progress in terms of reforms, especially in regard to democratisation,” she said and added: “We fully acknowledge the fact that these reforms have taken place despite the Russian military aggression that is ongoing.”

She said the conflict could not be forgotten but added that Ukranian citizens expected progress nonetheless.

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Towards the end of 2013, then-president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to suspend the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU led to a popular revolt, the so-called Euromaidan Revolution or Revolution of Dignity, that resulted in him losing power and heading to exile in Russia.

Russia responded by fueling an armed uprising in the Russian-speaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine and annexing in 2014 the Crimean Peninsula.

It was new President Petro Poroshenko who ended up signing the agreement with the EU, but his relations with the bloc have witnessed tense moments, such as during a summit with Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July last year.

Juncker criticized the fight against corruption in the country as unsatisfactory and gave some advice that was not well received by the Ukrainian leader.

The MEPs were not received by the Ukrainian president on this visit, but they held meetings with the deputy head of presidential administration, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.

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