Brussels, 31 January 2013
Ukraine: First meeting with the new Foreign Minister
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, met Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara in Brussels late Wednesday. It was their first official meeting since the appointment of Mr Kozhara as the new Foreign Minister and provided an opportunity to discuss recent developments in Ukraine and to look at how to advance EU-Ukraine relations in line with the latest Council Conclusions on Ukraine from December 2012 that defined the way forward in the bilateral relations. "The European Union acknowledges the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice. Our engagement with Ukraine remains firm and is based on respect for common values", Commissioner Füle said. At the same time he reiterated that the EU expects determined action and tangible progress on the part of Ukraine which would enable the signature of the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, possibly by the time of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius next November. These concern the issues of selective justice, elections and Association agenda reforms.
Commissioner Füle expressed his concerns about the sudden transfer of the former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko from hospital to prison earlier on Wednesday, soon after a serious surgery. "We are following this case closely, the circumstances of the transfer and the health condition of Mr Lutsenko remain a concern to us. I urge the authorities to assume responsibility for the humanitarian and health aspects of Mr Lutsenko and the risks brought to his health by the transfer," he stressed. Commissioner Füle also enquired about the situation of Yulia Tymoshenko expressing concern about the overall political context of the proceedings against her.
On his forthcoming visit to Ukraine he said: "I am looking forward to visiting Kyiv on 7-8 February to get more insight into Ukraine’s objectives and recent developments ahead of the upcoming EU-Ukraine Summit. I will also stress the importance of strengthening relations between the EU and Ukraine to make Europe a stable, united and prosperous continent. I look forward to working, in line with Ukraine's European aspirations and in a mutually beneficial way, for the political association and economic integration to modernise Ukraine, restructure its economy and strengthen its democracy and rule of law so that Ukrainian citizens can clearly benefit from it.''