Reaction (of sorts) to the PACE report on Ukraines honouring of its obligations and commitments
Both the Prime Minister and Ministry of Justice responded on Thursday to the report “ Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Ukraine” by Co-rapporteurs: Hanne Severinsen and Renate Wohlwend based on their visit to Ukraine in October 2006.
The Ministry of Justice has objected to the apparent statement by Ms Severinsen in an interview to Radio Svoboda that the Ministry of Justice is drawing up draft laws which do not comply with Council of Europe standards.
Prime Minister Yanukovych told UNIAN that he considered the report to not be “objective”, and invited the co-rapporteurs to provide “facts”.
A brief outline of the report was given yesterday. We now provide the whole report
We can only hope that at least some people in the present government will read the report carefully, noting especially (see the bold print) the paragraph regarding the situation with the candidacy of Nina Karpachova, presently a Party of the Regions State Deputy for the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson and the flagrant conflict of interests this represents.
Information note of the co-rapporteurs following their fact-finding visit to Ukraine (9-12 October 2006)
COMMITTEE ON THE HONOURING OF OBLIGATIONS AND COMMITMENTS BY MEMBER STATES OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE (MONITORING COMMITTEE)
Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Ukraine
Co-rapporteurs: Mrs Hanne Severinsen (Denmark, ALDE)
Mrs Renate Wohlwend (Liechtenstein, EPP/CD)
Information note of the co-rapporteurs following their fact-finding visit to Ukraine (9–12 October 2006)
1. The fact-finding visit in question took place from 9 to 12 October 2006 and served two main goals: a) to discuss with the main political forces the key internal and foreign political orientations in the new political set-up following the March 2006 legislative elections; and b) to follow up on the progress made on implementing the previous governments Action Plan for the Honouring by Ukraine of its Obligations and Commitments to the Council of Europe, approved by President Yushchenko on 20 January 2006.
2. During our 3 ½ -day visit, our delegation met with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Mr Moroz, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Mr Chalyi, Deputy Head of Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Internal Affairs, leaders of all party factions of the Verkhovna Rada, Chairs of the Verkhovna Rada Committees on Justice, on Legislative Reinforcement of Law and on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government; Prosecutor General; Presidents of the Supreme Court and the High Administrative Court; Vice-President of the Constitutional Court; Head of the Security Service; and Chairman of the National Committee on Strengthening of Democracy and the Rule of Law. The only meeting that had to be cancelled was the one planned with President Viktor Yushchenko, for reasons beyond the control of our hosts.
3. In addition to the official programme organised by the Verkhovna Rada secretariat, we also met with NGO and media representatives, a group of foreign Ambassadors in Kyiv as well as with Ambassador Frank ODonnell, Resident Co-ordinator of the United Nations and UNDP Resident Representative, Ambassador Ian Boag, Head of the EU Delegation in Kyiv, Mr James Greene, Head of NATO Liaison Office in Kyiv and their collaborators.
4. We are grateful to the President of the Verkhovna Rada and the Ukrainian delegation for having accommodated all our wishes for meetings. We extend our personal thanks to the Ukrainian delegation secretariat for having put all their resources into adapting the programme when necessary while doing their best to maintain all requested appointments. We also thank the Council of Europe Information Office in Kyiv for facilitating our meetings with civil society and media representatives as well as H.E. Mr Ufe Baslev; Ambassador of Denmark for organising a fruitful exchange of views with representatives of the diplomatic corps in Kyiv.
5. Our visit took place at "a turbulent moment in the sea of trouble" since the Cabinet Ministers of the Presidential party decided on 11 October 2006 to collectively resign from the government coalition on grounds of incompatible political views on internal and foreign policies while the President and the Prime Minister were still engaged in negotiations in the hope to resuscitate the spirit of the Universal of National Unity (signed in August 2006) and to find a possibility to form a grand coalition with the aim of "unifying Ukraine". Since then, Our Ukraine has left the government coalition and several key policy makers that we met, including the Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Interior and the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, have resigned or have been dismissed.
6. The political under-currents move at such speed in Ukraine that many of the observations we drafted right after our visit no longer apply to the political realities today. Furthermore, in the context of the political tug of war that has unfolded since the last peaceful coexistence attempts failed in November 2006, it would be naïve to expect much progress on substantial reforms in at least the next six months to come. All political debates are currently overshadowed by the internal fights over the redistribution of political authority, with the ghost of early parliamentary elections looming in the air again. For that reason, the analysis below will take a brief stock of the tangible results that have been achieved since our previous visit in February 2006, and concentrate mostly on the continuing constitutional vacuum, the institutional inability to come to terms with the political reform and the consequences that this situation may lead to.
1. Positive developments since the previous visit in February 2006
1.1. Electoral democracy
7. The parliamentary elections of 26 March 2006 indisputably manifested a democratic breakthrough. They may have been messy in some areas because of national, regional and local elections run on the same day; however, the Ukrainian citizens were able to democratically express their free choice. Whether this will be a rule in the future remains to be seen, but reliance on strategies to win votes rather than manipulating the count may have set up an important precedent.
8. The elections showed that the majority of the population remained supportive of the pro-reform choice and that the motivation that had driven the Orange Revolution was not lost. Despite disillusionment with President Yushchenko, Viktor Yanukovych received fewer votes (32%) in this election than he received in the first round of the 2004 presidential elections (36%). The "Orange forces" together took 45% of the votes.
9. Mass media have become more pluralistic, competitive and independent from state interference, and are struggling to attain the status of the real fourth power. There are no longer any forbidden issues or politicians who are immune from criticism.
10. A responsive civil society is being formed. People feel more confident about standing up for their rights and challenging the government. The Orange Revolution freed them from fear of authorities, but the 18 months of internal fights within the two consecutive "orange" governments also dispelled their illusions and blind trust in any authorities.
11. For the first time after independence, Ukraine has a democratically elected government. The almost 9-month skirmish over coalition-building was a painstaking process which has revealed several flaws in the new constitution; however, the fact that Ukraine has established a constitutional order that enables its political representatives to govern on the basis of democratic compromises is a real achievement. Prime Minister Yanukovych Cabinet has thus the democratic legitimacy to rule the country, even if some people find it hard to understand that the loser of the 2004 presidential elections has been selected to head the government and that his powers rival – if not exceed – those of the president..
12. After the coming into force of the much-contested 2004 Constitutional amendments in January 2006, the Prime Minister is now much less dependant on the President. In fact, not a single branch has a monopoly power, which is a welcome break with the past. A polycentrism of decision-making in Ukraine has emerged that is very far from the traditional notion of separation of powers, but it creates a certain system of checks and balances and will hopefully foster tolerance towards different thinking and diverging interests, even if it impedes the chances of a fast breakthrough with reforms.
13. The political system is moving, albeit slowly, towards greater accountability. There is no easy way to undo the democratic changes that the Orange Revolution has introduced and consolidated. Nonetheless, when we say today that Ukraine may be considered a democratic country, we have to underline that today it is merely an electoral democracy where people can, indeed, elect their future rulers, but it is not yet a genuine democracy able to manage the change of power without upsetting the major processes, where the rulers would conduct policies based on peoples interests and expectations or where voters would be also able to affect the behaviour of the leadership during their term of office.
1.2. Progress made on the honouring of specific obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe
14. Despite the seven-month government vacuum preceding the nomination of the Yanukovych government in August 2006, the caretaker government of Mr Yekhanurov progressed substantially on a number of reform commitments stipulated in the Assembly Resolution 1466 (2005) and Recommendation 1722 (2005) as well as in the Ukrainian governments Action Plan for the Honouring by Ukraine of its Obligations and Commitments to the Council of Europe, an implementation strategy prepared by the Ministry of Justice and adopted by the President of Ukraine on 20 January 2006, which we praised as "a true road map for the country to follow" in our previous report in February. In hindsight, we should indeed recognise the sincere willingness of the authorities to implement the ambitious plan according to the proposed time frame and notably before a new government of "unknown colour" would take over after the 26 March elections. We can only regret that the impressive amount of draft legislation prepared by government officials and their committed teams has not made it to the parliament or was not passed into law. With the change of government and the current tug of war in the higher political echelons, the likelihood of these drafts being discussed even in parliamentary committees in the near future remains relatively low.
15. One of the most noteworthy accomplishments has been the Concept on the Reform of the Judiciary, which was prepared by the National Commission for the Strengthening of Democracy and the Rule of Law and adopted by Presidential Decree on 10 May 2006. The Action Plan for the Improvement of the Judicial System and Ensuring Fair Trial in Ukraine in line with European standards for 2006 was adopted by Presidential Decree on 20 March 2006. The draft amendments on the financing of courts and court fees were submitted to the Parliament by the Government in June 2006. In the same month, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a State Programme to provide courts with the necessary premises in 2006-2010. On the basis of the adopted Concept, two draft laws - new wordings of the Law on the Judiciary and the Law on Status of Judges - were prepared by the Ministry of Justice and the National Commission and submitted to the President. After some delay, we are glad to hear that those drafts have been submitted to the parliament on 27 December 2006. Meanwhile, both drafts have also been submitted by the National Commission to the Venice Commission for opinion.
16. Similarly to the Concept of the Reform of the Judiciary, the National Commission is currently working on the Concept of the Criminal Justice System Reform, which includes a new criminal procedure code, a new law on the Security Service, the reform of the law enforcement bodies and the draft law on the prosecutors office. The General Prosecutors Office prepared draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine proposing to include the Prokuratura in the system of the judiciary. The draft law was sent to the Venice Commission for an opinion and received an assessment by the expert opinion adopted on 14 October 2006.
17. Also, the Concept of Eradication of Corruption was approved by the Government in June 2006 and adopted by the President on 11 September 2006. On the same day the President submitted an anti-corruption draft legislation package to the parliament, including the draft ratification laws for the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and Additional Protocol thereto, the UN Convention against Corruption, the draft law on introduction of the criminal responsibility of legal persons, the new wording of the Law of Ukraine "On the Fight against Corruption" and draft amendments to other laws to make them compatible with international standards.
18. Another positive step has been the adoption of the Law on the Execution of Judgments and Application of Case-Law of the European Court of Human Rights . This Law, which could become a model for other member States, provides for a comprehensive mechanism to enforce the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights through individual and general measures as required by Committee of Ministers 2004 recommendation. To implement the Law, the government amended its own acts in May 2006 and introduced mandatory verification of draft legal acts considered by the government as to their compliance with the Convention and ECtHRs case-law. In response to the ECtHRs judgments that had discovered several structural problems in the legal system and administrative practice of Ukraine such as non-execution or delayed execution of national court decisions, delays in pre-trial and trial proceedings in violation of the reasonable time requirement, conditions of detention amounting to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, etc., President Yushchenko by his Decree No. 587 of 27 June 2006 presented a National Action Plan to Ensure Proper Execution of National Court Decisions. A Draft law on the right to pre-trial and trial proceedings as well as enforcement of court decisions within reasonable time is currently being prepared in the Ministry of Justice. Following the adoption of the Assemblys Resolution 1516 (2006), which highlighted the same problems (paragraph 22), a group of parliamentarians, members of the Ukrainian delegation to the PACE, submitted a draft resolution to the Verkhovna Rada which provides for introduction of parliamentary control over the execution of Courts judgments and contains a number of specific instructions/recommendations to the Government, the Supreme Court, Prosecutors General Office and parliamentary committees concerning execution of specific judgments of the Court which require general measures. We were disappointed to find out that the said resolution was not supported by the Ukrainian legislators during the vote on 28 November 2006 due to the position of the new Minister of Justice, which had opposed a number of instructions given by the Government. The Ukrainian Parliament should be urged to reconsider its position in order to implement the PACE Resolution and introduce parliamentary control over execution of Courts judgments.
19. In response to the criticism expressed in the Assemblys Recommendation 1722 (2005) concerning the small number of ratification of Council of Europe instruments, a total of 11 Council of Europe treaties were signed between January and August 2006 and the work on the ratification of previously signed treaties has intensified. In May 2006 Ukraine was the first member State to sign the Council of Europe Convention on the avoidance of statelessness in relation to State succession. The government issued special instructions to the ministries to intensify their work on the preparation for ratification of CE treaties and to prepare new treaties for signature. As a result, in 2006 the following CE treaties were ratified by Ukraine:
- Protocol No. 12 to the ECHR (ratification instrument deposited in March 2006);
- Protocol No. 14 to the ECHR (ratification instrument deposited in March 2006);
- European Landscape Convention (ratification instrument deposited in March 2006);
- Convention on Cybercrime (ratification instrument deposited in March 2006);
- European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe (ratification instrument deposited in June 2006);
- Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- European Convention on the Exercise of Childrens Rights (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- European Social Charter (revised) (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- European Convention on Nationality (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- Convention on Contact concerning Children (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006);
- Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism (ratification instrument deposited in December 2006).
20. Thus, as of the end of December 2006, Ukraine has ratified 60 CE treaties (with ratification instruments being deposited) and signed 29. To compare, in October 2005 – 46 treaties were ratified and 22 signed.
21. Finally, on 6 November 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the setting up of the office of the Secretary Generals special representative in Kyiv, a project which we had first proposed already in January 2004 and which President Yushchenko himself was very strongly supporting during his presidential campaign in 2004. We have been very happy to learn that the agreement was reached, despite the initial resistance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the idea of Ukraine needing an extra watchdog in the country or being placed on the same footing as lesser-developed democracies, after we had suggested during our previous visit in February that the Assembly Recommendation 1722 (2005) did not request a "supplementary eye" in the country but an "ambassador – project co-ordinator similar to that of the OSCE". We hope that the Secretary General of the Council of Europe will now undertake to proceed to the setting up of the office as soon as possible.
2. Concerns and issues raised
2.1. Parliamentary democracy and political reform
22. The political reality in todays Ukraine shows that, apart from the conduct of free and transparent elections in March 2006, the promises of the Maidan to introduce clean, honest and competent governance and promote the rule of law and transparency at all levels have not been met. The new Cabinet is top-heavy with officials who personified the corrupt fusion of business interests with the government and the manipulation of elections before the Orange Revolution period. The non-transparent way in which the coalition negotiations were conducted over half a year, the mismatch of the political colours of the so-called coalition partners and the murky deals that the short-lived grand coalition stemmed from means that people do not finally know who they voted for.
23. The incessant tug of war between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yanukovych follows the unfortunate example of Our Ukraine and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc that began to destroy themselves already during the election race a year ago. The continual confrontation frustrates the hopes for a political consensus in making strategic decisions or stepping up the badly needed reform process. President Yushchenkos Universal in August 2006 was in itself a positive attempt to maintain the momentum of the reforms launched by Mr Yekhanurovs government as well as the course towards Euro-Atlantic integration; however, in reality it only enabled the Party of Regions to come to power and exercise it without too much regard for its provisions. Ukraines unpredictable political system without fixed rules, moral umpires or political traditions, where agreements between political forces are signed only to be broken on the following day, coupled with the lack of strategy and transparency, disinterest in reforms and the return of discredited personnel from the Kuchma era to the state apparatus cast doubt on the irreversibility of the spirit of the Universal, augment the gap between the state and society in Ukraine and seriously undermine Ukraines international reputation as a reliable partner.
24. More than a year from the legal enforcement of the new political system and nine months after the elections, Ukraine is still caught in a rapid dynamic of change of fundamental structures (or rather, it is locked in a contentious power-sharing arrangement that was initially an effort to unite Ukraine but instead has turned into a tug of war for influence, with the President largely on the losing side). At todays date, Ukraine still does not have clearly defined and law-based democratic institutions; the latter continue to be used as a battlefield of interests and not for exercising responsibility towards the people as appropriate for a democratic state. A huge gap exists between the rhetoric and reality, promises and performance, intentions and action, which in turn have contributed to a loss in public confidence in state institutions, and to the rise of political apathy, corruption, and fears of eventual return of undemocratic practices.
25. The status of political reform still remains questionable. Although no political force in todays context challenges the conversion from the presidential-parliamentary system to a more parliamentary system in principle – provided they get a fair share of the ruling power –, the limits and irreversibility of the reform are still a constant source of conflict and confusion. In fact, since the constitutional reform entered into force before all necessary legal norms were harmonised or even adapted, the political and legal collision has been inevitable. Also, from the very beginning, the central issue at stake in this reform has not been the "balance of power" but the "control of power". In addition, the procedure of constitutional amendments since 2003 has been marred by gross violations of the constitutional procedure, which makes it vulnerable for contestation. We already predicted before the March 2006 elections that if Our Ukraine remained in the majority government, it was unlikely that the controversial 8 December 2004 package deal concerning the constitutional reform would be challenged. Now that Our Ukraine has left the government coalition, the tug of war for more power in the PM-Parliament-President triangle is likely to continue to increase. All of them claim to have prepared and be about to submit dozens of petitions to the Constitutional Court, including different challenges to the political reform.
26. It is evident that Ukraine cannot move ahead with any serious reform project as long as it does not resolve its constitutional crisis. As was shown in 2006, the constitutional question directly influences domestic policies (relations between parliament and president), economics (relations between government and the president) and foreign policy (most vividly seen in the recent parliaments dismissal of the foreign minister). If the political leaders do not reach a consensus on the political reform upon the agreed basis of dvovladdia in the forthcoming months, the risk is that the high stakes of the 2009 presidential elections may soon swing the political pendulum towards a more centralised power again. That, however, would mean that the vested interests of small circles of individuals in power positions are likely to lead the country into further stagnation.
27. In practical terms, the first experience of applying imperfect constitutional amendments has revealed that many issues remain open and that further reflection and regulation is needed on issues such as:
– whether the proportional party system with closed candidates lists is the best for a young and fragile democracy;
– the nomination and dismissal of the ministers, their return to the parliament;
– explicit grounds for dissolving the parliament and calling for new elections;
– whether the Constitution should enshrine the procedural aspects of coalition-building or whether the latter should be established in the parliaments Rules of Procedure;
– the question of imperative mandate of MPs, etc.
28. The constitutional framework laws on the Cabinet of Ministers and on the President that would clearly outline the functions and competences of the two respective state institutions in full compliance of the provisions of the Constitution and agreed principles of dvovladdia need to be adopted without further delay. Furthermore, proper rules-of-the-game for governance should be established, including:
– The limitation of the immunity of parliamentarians, judges and public administrators to functional immunity only
– Full financial disclosure of public authorities
– Full disclosure of conflict of interests
– A Code of Ethics of Government officials should be introduced.
29. The important parliamentary control instrument of ad hoc investigatory commissions remains without proper legislative basis defining the scope of their powers and mode of operation. The issue of the parliaments Rules of Procedure remains open since the previous convocation of the Verkhovna Rada adopted its new Rules of Procedure by a simple resolution which excluded presidential control over its legality through the veto instrument and contradicted the Constitutional provision according to which the parliaments organisation and order of functioning should be exclusively regulated by law.
30. Since 2004, the PACE has recommended that further amendments be made to the constitution with a view to bringing the functions of the Prosecutor Generals Office in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
31. Another long overdue task of constitutional reform is the enhancement of the system of local self-government by the creation of executive bodies of regional councils, abolition of local level bodies of the state executive branch and other adjustments. These changes have to be complemented by amendments to the basic laws on local self-government and on local executive bodies. The reform measures should comply with the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
2.2. Stepping up other relevant reforms
32. Regardless of the legitimate right for the new government wishing to pursue the reforms according to its own vision and agenda, a mature Cabinet of Ministers should not discard the reform projects launched over the past 18 months that serve the same final goal. To this end, we would wish to see efforts towards the fulfilment of the Action Plan for the Honouring by Ukraine of its Obligations and Commitments to the Council of Europe, adopted by President Yushchenko in January 2006, stepped up and consolidated. We welcome the new strategies of the reform of the judiciary, criminal justice, fight against corruption worked out under the previous government; and we expect to see those concepts further elaborated and new draft laws to be submitted to Parliament without delay.
33. The reform of the legal system should be continued in line with Council of Europe standards by the completion of the judicial reform; adoption of a new law on the Bar (one of Ukraines original commitments when it became a CE member state); reform of the prosecutorial service, bodies of the interior, security service and other law enforcement agencies; reform of the substantive and procedural criminal law; creation of an effective free legal aid system.
34. The setting up of a fully-fledged administrative jurisdiction should be sped up. We regret that the long delays in setting up the system of local administrative courts, which should have been created by 2005, persist. The development of administrative courts was until recently the main real achievement of the judicial reform since the last 5 years and its reversal would hurt Ukraines aspiration to instil the rule of law principle by protecting its citizens right to appeal against the state machinery through the mechanism of administrative jurisdiction.
35. The efforts to fight corruption, although significant if compared with previous inactivity, have to be stepped up and implemented in practice. We hope that the parliament will soon adopt the draft anti-corruption legislation currently pending before it. However, we understand that enforcement activity in this direction is dependent on the success and pace of reforms of the criminal justice system which is also under way.
36. Administrative reform is still unfinished and requires, inter alia, the adoption of a new law on civil service and the law on ministries and other central bodies of the executive which would clearly separate political offices and public administration. However, more than new regulations, the administrative reform efforts should aim at reducing the excessive and top-down heavy bureaucracy that the Ukrainian public administration has inherited from Soviet times and at introducing modern principles of accountability, transparency and professionalism into its public service.
37. The system of broadcast and print media requires deep transformation through the set-up of a public broadcasting service on the basis of the state television and radio companies and privatisation of print outlets (co-)founded by state or local self-government authorities. The current legal framework guaranteeing access to information has to be changed to offer more efficient mechanisms of state authorities accountability. The governmental draft law on the transparency of media ownership recently submitted to the parliament has to be adopted and properly enforced.
2.3. Other outstanding issues
38. The state of infancy of good governance and the absence of democratic tradition in Ukraine (which some say is a sign of return to "kuchmist" practices) let themselves be felt in appointments to significant positions. The Ukrainian lawmakers have a peculiar understanding of independence of certain functions, which was seen last year both in the 10-month long blocking of the appointment of the constitutional court judges as well as in the way several key persons whose independence is paramount to their function, such as the President of the Supreme Court, the former Prosecutor General (whose appeal against dismissal was pending before the court) or the Ombudsperson, were actively campaigning in leading positions for the parliamentary elections. While in Kyiv, we raised the question of the Ombudspersons two mandates , and later on were pleased to learn that the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada had decided to raise the issue at the parliament, following which the incumbent Ombudsperson was dismissed. On 11 January, the Verkhovna Rada was scheduled to elect the new Ombudsperson. To our indignation, however, the ruling coalition parties presented the candidature of the same person that had discredited the independence of the Ombudsmans office in Ukraine for months. We appreciate that after having received our expression of concern, the item has been postponed to a later date. However, we would like our Ukrainian colleagues to understand that they have to abide by the rules that apply to commonly accepted requirements for independent institutions.
2.4. Future orientations
39. There has been much speculation over Ukraines foreign policy orientations, its future European integration and Euro-Atlantic, as opposed to multi-vector, aspirations since the coming into power of the government in August 2006. It will take some time for Ukraine to fully develop a national consensus on which direction the country wants to take. We believe that as that choice emerges, it will be one for Europe and closer integration with the West, while obviously preserving its important cultural, human, economic and even political links with Russia.
40. However, we are convinced that Ukraines greatest challenge today is not its integration with the West, but the integration of Ukraine. The experiment in unity between the Orange-Blue rivals of 2004 collapsed as quickly as could be expected, but instead of restoring old alliances, the collapse seems to be producing today a new and more complex alignment in Ukrainian politics, with new lines of cleavage emerging between the more democratically oriented Euro-realists (or rather, self-interested proponents of the European future for Ukraine) and the eastern Ukrainian "paternalists" propagating multi-vector approach. While the Orange-Blue opposition over-emphasised the geographical East-West division and even the split in Ukrainian identity, the new political landscape finds the roots and resources of both centres of gravity on the same turf, i.e. in big business in the Donetsk region. For the integration of Ukraine, the diminution of the regional divide and the reconstitution of todays political blocs are absolutely vital. The short-term effect of this process is likely to be incoherent and turbulent but in the long run it can positively lead to breaking the mould of Ukrainian politics today and contribute to more constructive basis for political decision-making.
41. During our meetings with Ukrainian authorities as well as with civil society and media representatives, we were often confronted with the question whether we were going to recommend the termination of the full-scale monitoring procedure. We believe that eleven years is a long time for any country to be under monitoring and we would very much like to see this heavy procedure replaced by the lighter form of a post-monitoring dialogue as soon as possible.
42. On the other hand, we also need to receive credible assurances that the country remains on the reform path it committed itself to when joining the Council of Europe in 1995 and continues to uphold the organisations statutory values of pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as the public pledges on the Maidan two years ago. During our meeting, Prime Minister Mr Yanukovych reassured us that the domestic and foreign policy priorities, directions and strategies were not subject to change under his management; on the contrary, these were further consolidated in the Universal signed by major political forces in August last year. Since then however, the government coalition has collapsed and we have some concern over the direction that both the foreign policy and the political reform process may take. The current signs are not altogether encouraging. If further progress is not achieved, the country may find itself unable to cope with many of its internal and external challenges. In the months before the next general debate on the honouring by Ukraine of its obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe (tentatively scheduled to take place at the autumn session on 2007), we would need to see tangible progress achieved in the key reform issues mentioned above, which would support the assurances given.
43. There is no magic recipe for making a country democratic and prosperous other than through a broad-based cross-party political commitment to a coherent package of well-targeted reforms coupled with a clear understanding that reforms are not only about introducing new laws but about transforming society. These reforms should benefit the citizens and not the rulers of the country. They should be implemented and applicable for everybody; and there should be no exceptions from the rule of law. The Ukrainian political leadership must understand that a democratic society, an effective and competitive economy, efficient laws and judicial authority, an effective electoral system, etc. are indispensable for Ukraine and the Ukrainians not for the sake of eventual EU or NATO membership, but for the countrys own future prosperity. It is therefore of paramount importance that, regardless of the differences of opinion and political combats for power positions, all different political forces come to an agreement that building democratic institutions, implementing judicial, legal, administrative and economic reforms and fighting against corruption must top the political agenda. Maintaining the current status quo on the reforms can only mean a step back.
Programme of the fact-finding visit to Ukraine
(9-12 October 2006)
Co-rapporteurs: Mrs Hanne SEVERINSEN (Denmark, ALDE)
Mrs Renate WOHLWEND (Liechtenstein, EPP/CD)
Secretariat: Mrs Ivi ODRATS, Co-Secretary, Monitoring Committee