EU presses Ukraine on upcoming elections

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At a bilateral summit in Kiev, the EU has reiterated its call for Ukraine to uphold democratic standards and form a government swiftly following its parliamentary elections on 30 September, in a move that is anticipated to end the ongoing political crisis.
 

Meeting with Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko at an annual high-level meeting in Kiev on 14 September, Commission President José Manuel Barroso stressed the need for continuing political and economic reforms in Ukraine.

“We trust that after the elections we can continue to work with Ukraine, so that we can help to consolidate constitutional stability, which is essential for the progress of this great country,” Barroso said.

Yushchenko in return vowed that his country would continue on the path of reform following the elections. He stated: “Our European democratic choice is final and irreversible.”

At the meeting, the EU and Ukraine signed an agreement on visa facilitation and re-admission, which is to be ratified by parliaments. The two parties also took stock of their energy co-operation in a report on the implementation of the memorandum on energy collaboration between the EU and Ukraine.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "We came to Ukraine as partners, as friends and we believe in fair elections. Today we have signed agreements in different areas. And that testifies level of our trust in Ukraine."

EU High Representative Javier Solana said: "The fact that we are here, the fact the summit has been maintained, is the real proof of our relationship, our trust in the development of your country, of the future of your country and free elections and the possibility of having a government as soon as possible. Then will be important also to move forward rapidly the negotiations on enhanced agreement with the Ukraine and the European Union."

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko: "On behalf of Ukraine I thanked the EU for its tolerant attitude during the parliamentary crisis in our country. Elections in Ukraine will be held according to international and Ukrainian laws. This election will be fair and democratic."

MEP Ari Vatanen (EPP-ED) commented that "unless proper elections go ahead and the necessary reforms take place, it will be very difficult for me and my colleagues to support Ukraine's integration into the EU".

Human rights NGO Amnesty International urged the EU to raise human rights deficiencies at the Summit. Director of Amnesty's EU Office, Dick Oosting said: "Along with energy and other 'strategic' interests, we expect that the EU will not shy away from raising fundamental human rights issues that affect the lives of Ukrainians and foreigners and should play a key role in any deepening of relations between Ukraine and the EU."

The EU hopes that the upcoming elections will help Ukraine overcome its internal political crisis, which began in April when President Yushchenko called for early elections, a move that Prime Minister Yanukovich has refused up to now. The two political leaders have been rivals since the 2004 Orange Revolution.

EU leaders have made clear that democratic elections were necessary to allow a new "enhanced agreement", which would include a free-trade area and increased energy co-operation, as well as Ukraine's WTO accession

However, at a recent European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) conference on 3 September in Brussels, Ukraine had already expressed its discontent over the current state of relations and had asked to be recognised as a potential candidate for EU membership (see EURACTIV 04/09/07).

  • 14 Sept.: EU-Ukraine Summit.
  • 30 Sept.: Ukraine holds early elections.

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