“Disturbing developments” still further jeopardize EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
President Yanukovych’s attempt on Thursday to justify the revocation of Serhiy Vlasenko’s mandate is unlikely to remove any of the concern expressed at the debate on Ukraine at the plenary session of the European Parliament on Wednesday evening. As reported, Ukraine was put on the agenda specifically as a result of the High Administrative Court ruling on 6 March which stripped the opposition MP and defender of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of his mandate.
Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement said that “if Ukraine is still serious about signing an ambitious association and trade deal with the EU by November, then disturbing news such as the recent removal of two opposition MPs mandates, is not the way forward”.
MEPs spoke of “old Soviet mechanisms being set in motion" and also a lack of commitment to solving systemic problems of democracy and justice. They did, however, also criticize “the unconstructive response of the opposition, which has blocked the work of the Ukrainian Parliament.”
MEPs reiterated the clear requirements set by the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which Ukraine was expected to meet by May, as a prerequisite for signing the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Trade agreement with the EU.
It will not be possible to sign these deals, which would be the most advanced ones that the EU has ever negotiated with a third country, unless the Tymoshenko case and other "selective justice" issues are addressed in coming months, they said.
The following is Štefan Füle’s Concluding remarks at the EP debate on the situation in Ukraine
European Parliament Plenary session, Strasbourg, 13 March 2013
President, Honourable Members, 3 remarks:
1. I don’t want anyone here to have the feeling that we are talking as much about selective justice as the only thing that defines our relations with Ukraine. Let me make it absolutely clear that those are very comprehensive relations and the Summit at the end of February made the point that there is not an area where we would not pursue a very intensive cooperation with Ukraine.
2. No one is delaying anything and definitely not the Association Agreement and DCFTA . The Foreign Ministers in December set out a clear road map to lead us to the Vilnius Summit including certain conditions to be fulfilled to create the right framework for signing this extremely important and innovative agreement. And in parallel the European Commission is working on the text and I expect that in early Spring we will be able to send it to the Council with the respective request and also recommendation.
3. Let me also make this very clear: this is not a Free Trade Agreement and this is not just a geostrategic kind of Treaty we are in – and by the way with the new Neighbourhood Policy that this house so much supported I thought the times were over when this is treated only from a geostrategic point of view, keeping away the values and the interests.. In the case of Ukraine, what we are concluding is the treaty not only about political association but also about economic integration, a treaty that brings Ukraine much closer to the Europe, gradually accepting the country into the single market of the European Union. This is what the DCFTA is offering. I don’t know, in addition to Enlargement, any other policy which would so effectively build more European Union in our partner countries than this Association Agreement/DCFTA. It is an agreement on the shared responsibility based on shared values.
Now let me make those 2 more substantive remarks
First, those witnessing the transformation of central Europe will recall that it took couple of years and quite some efforts. They – central and eastern - might have started at the same time but there are two differences:
- there was a light at the end of tunnel for central Europe. NATO membership and European membership were there, clearly defined, and for the politicians of those countries it was easier to explain tha some of the reforms steps are worth being undertaken because of the goal ahead.
- don’t underestimate the difference between being part of the socialist camp and being part of the post Soviet Union: you have a different starting point.
What I am trying to say is that it took a couple of years for the countries in central Europe where we defined that goal quite clearly from the very beginning but there is no wonder it is going to take more for the countries and the regions of eastern Europe. We have to be aware of that, but it should not take away our willingness to engage and to help, it should not take away anything from our expectations either but please be aware of that.
Now let me also make the following points
1. We have been talking a lot about the transformation of Eastern Europe to complete this project of a united, prosperous and stable Europe. This year and the Vilnius Summit is the opportunity not only to talk about it but to deliver on it – signing the AA by Ukraine and hopefully announcing the finalisation of the negotiations of the Association Agreement and DCFTA with 3 others partners from Eastern Europe. Those are going to be the first, very concrete steps in transforming the post Soviet Union and this is a very big thing.
2 .There should be no doubts about our interest in signing the association agreement. This agreement has been negotiated in a couple of years and it provides a value added for both the citizens of Ukraine and the citizens of the European Union. But there has been one thing that we have been repeating for a number of years now. It was 3 years ago that we made it clear to the Ukrainians that in pursuing the goal of political association and economic integration and also ensuring the mobility of the people through the visa free access to the Schengen countries, we will engage with you, we will be active, we will be forthcoming, we will be supportive, we will be creative, we will be flexible, we will be helpful. But we made one thing clear: there will be one area where there will be no flexibility, where we will make no compromises and these is the area of our shared values and shared principles and they are the basis of this agreement. And what else would we expect from a country with such an open and clear European aspiration, which I hope this house also respects; and that doesn’t take away anything I have said in my statement in the beginning where I have so extensively talked about selective justice.