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Brussels, 15 May 2012
Remarks by Commissioner Füle following the fifteenth EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council
The Minister has set out very clearly how we believe Ukraine can get back on the road to political association. This message was given clearly to the Ukrainian side today.
As Cathy Ashton said yesterday after the FAC: developments in Ukraine are cause for concerns. We initialled Association Agreement at the end of March and we wish to sign it but Ukraine needs to show that it lives in the spirit of this political association. We expect Ukraine to address the issues of politically motivated trials, independence of judiciary and selective use of law.
EU leaders have staked their reputation on a successful conclusion of the Association process with Ukraine which would introduce an innovative and comprehensive framework for reform and modernization, with a depth and breadth we have not seen before.
There is no Plan B to fall back on, because we believe that the abandonment of the association process would be a betrayal of citizens and a betrayal of the principles of the Eastern Partnership.
But this does not mean we will compromise on values such as democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the Rule of Law which are at the heart of this Agreement. These values will be put to the test from today onwards by Ukraine’s approach to the selective justice issue, and by their approach to the parliamentary elections. This is something we underlined repeatedly at today’s Co-operation Council.
Ukraine’s commitment to political association will be judged on the basis of its commitment to reform.
We welcomed a new resolve on the government’s part regarding some recent legislative acts and the reorganization of the administration:
A new Criminal Procedure Code was yesterday signed into law. We welcome this new Code and we look forward to its effective implementation. We hope this could set a good example for further, broader judicial reforms by overhauling the outdated procedures which are currently applied in Ukraine’s criminal system. We agreed to launch today an informal dialogue on judiciary reform.
Another example is the new law on public associations which was also recently adopted and welcomed by the civil society representatives.
We have to build on these steps, and also give new life to some other core reform processes. One obvious example is the constitution - President Yanukovych’s decision to establish a Constitutional Assembly was an important step, which needs to be followed up in an inclusive and transparent way.
I think we have had a positive indication that Ukraine is ready to restart serious discussions on the upgrade of its gas transit system, opening the way to exploiting the substantial package of package of support which the EU and International
Financial Institutions prepared in 2009. We also see a serious commitment to develop a strategy on public financial management which would open the way to resumption of our budget support operations in support of critical reforms like energy and public administration.
And finally, we noted an acceptance of the need for a serious and focused attack on widely-recognized problems in the business climate in Ukraine. We have agreed to launch an informal dialogue on business climate today.
So it has been a serious and sometimes difficult discussion. The measures we expect from Ukraine are absolutely clear, and the goal of political association and economic integration remains our common goal and that is also absolutely clear. Our work to make this a reality should restart today in earnest.