European integration stalled by Ukraine’s leaders
Participants in the EU-Ukraine Summit have issued statements reiterating concern over selective justice applied against opposition figures in Ukraine and the need to see commitment to democratic principles, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the EU-Ukraine Summit
Kiev, 19 December 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The European Union and Ukraine had today a very important summit. We had the opportunity to discuss with President Yanukovych issues of common interest and also openly and constructively to exchange views on areas of concern.
I came to Kyiv with a clear message: the relationship with Ukraine is very important for the EU. We want Ukraine closer to the European Union and we welcome Ukraine’s European choice. At the same time, the values that underpin our relationship need to be fully observed at all times.
Today we mark a major step in our relations: the finalization of the negotiations of the Association Agreement. This Agreement will contribute to our shared goal of furthering political association and economic integration. It also represents the best guarantee that Ukrainian citizens can enjoy a future based on European values and standards. This agreement also includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area which will be mutually beneficial to our countries and to our citizens allowing for an increase in our trade relations, foreign investment and also the creation of a more transparent business environment. This is not just about more trade, it is about real economic integration and regulatory convergence.
Having reached this important point, the time and pace for the next steps in the formalization of the Association Agreement will be determined by political developments in Ukraine. The key to strengthening our relationship is in the hands of the Ukrainian authorities.
I also had the opportunity to convey to President Yanukovych our concern regarding recent cases of what is perceived as selective justice in Ukraine against members of previous administrations, notably Mrs. Tymoshenko. And we also have discussed reforms, including in the constitutional and judicial spheres. It is precisely at a moment when we are striving to build strong and lasting relations that Ukraine needs to show its commitment to democratic principles, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In addition to discussing the strengthening of our political and economic ties, we reviewed the progress that has been made this year on implementing the Action Plan for Ukraine towards the establishment of a visa free regime for short stay travel. Considerable work has been done on this topic in the past year, and we reconfirmed very clearly our desire to take it forward as a top priority. It is essential that we succeed in facilitating mobility as people-to-people contacts are at the heart of the Association Agreement. As an intermediate step we have just concluded negotiations on an upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement which will facilitate travel to the EU for further categories of Ukrainian citizens.
Furthermore, we reiterated the importance to sustained economic reforms, and stressed the need for effective implementation and enforcement of newly adopted anti-corruption laws to back these reforms. We reminded Ukraine that the economic growth prospects for the country can only be maximized with a better investment and a better business climate.
We also discussed our energy relations. Early this year Ukraine joined the energy community. We consider this a historic event and a concrete signal of Ukraine’s European path. We stand ready to assists Ukraine in modernisation of its transit system and we expect that Ukraine’s energy regulations will continue to abide by Energy Community principles. We are working with Ukraine and with the international financial institutions so that we can have concrete progress in the modernisation of the transit system in Ukraine.
We, in the European Union, look forward to strengthen our ties with Ukraine. 2012 marks the 20th year of Ukraine’s independence and I believe the best way to pay tribute to these past 20 years and prepare the next 20 years to come is through fully embracing our common European values that are at the basis of our Association. This is also the key for the progress in our relationship.
I thank you for your attention.
Official statement by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy following the 15th European Union-Ukraine Summit
Mr President, thank you for an excellent organization of today’s summit.
The summit allowed us to take stock of the bilateral relations and agree on priorities for the future. It was also an opportunity to assess in more general terms the implementation of commitments and respect to declared values.
Let me start my reiterating that Ukraine is a partner of strategic importance for the EU. Our commitment to developing the relationship between the EU and Ukraine is firm. Since the last summit there has been developments in the EU-Ukraine relations - both positive and some that have given us reason for strong concern.
Today, we can publically announce that negotiations on the Association Agreement have been finalised. It was difficult work, but your government’s declared European choice and dedication has made it possible to conclude the talks with success. This is a giant step for our relations.
What is encouraging is the broad support this Agreement - and Ukraine’s European choice – enjoys in Ukrainian society.
It is also of decisive importance for Ukraine’s progress towards modernisation, prosperity, and the realisation of Ukraine’s European ambition. I pay tribute to the work that has been done.
We want to take steps to sign and ratify the Association Agreement as soon as we can, but this will depend on political circumstances. In this regard, a number of recent domestic developments in Ukraine have led to a difficult atmosphere between the European Union and Ukraine.
The support of European public opinion to Ukraine’s political association and economic integration to the EU is an important asset, closely related to this field. The perceived deterioration of the quality of democracy and rule of law in Ukraine has a direct impact in our Member-States, in our public at large, and in the European Parliament.
Our strong concern is primarily related to the risks of politically-motivated justice in Ukraine. The Timoshenko trial is the most striking example. But just as important, a comprehensive justice
reform in line with international standards is absolutely key. Media freedom and freedom of assembly are also key for a full fledged democracy. Shortcomings have to be corrected.
Mr President, the respect for these principles, enshrined in the Eastern Partnership and at the core of the Association Agreement, is decisive for the pace and depth of rapprochement with the EU and of the signing and ratification of the Association Agreement . But it is also fundamental to Ukraine’s future development as a competitive, dynamic and innovative society.
In this context, the parliamentary elections to be held next year, will be a litmus test. The conduct of these elections will have to meet the commitments of the OSCE, including the ensuring of a level playing field for all possible candidates. And it is of outmost importance that they can exercise their political rights.
We do, however, take note of the cross-party adoption by the Ukrainian Parliament of a new Law on Election of the People’s Deputies. We encourage you to continue close cooperation with the Venice Commission.
In summary, we share not only the common interest but also the common ambition of a closer EU-Ukraine relationship. This summit is proof of our commitment. We will work toward the realisation of this ambition. But this will require a major effort from Ukraine.
Finally, we will have an exchange on a couple of regional issues during lunch.
First on Belarus. Today it is one year since the violations of electoral standards at the 19 December Presidential elections in Belarus, which triggered a crackdown on civil society and political opposition. The developments during the last 12 months are worrying - the atmosphere of repression remains unabated.
The EU’s policy is principled. We stick to our policies of restrictive measures and outreach towards Belarusian civil society and public at large. We will not change this until all political prisoners are
released and rehabilitated.
We are happy for the dramatic improvement in Ukraine – Moldova relations since our last Summit. The European Union and Ukraine have a common interest in the territorial integrity of Moldova. We have high hopes for the resumption of the formal talks.
Once again, Mr President, this is an important day in our relations. Hopefully it is the beginning of the important period in which we can fully share common values and common interests.