MEPs laud Ukraine’s ‘positive’ reform progress
MEPs have hailed Ukraine‘s “positive” reform track, while condemning Russia‘s aggression in the Kerch Strait and the construction of Nord Stream 2.
Photo Credit: Press Association
In a parliamentary resolution, MEPs said that Ukraine has reformed in areas such as energy, health, pensions, education, public administration and decentralisation.
Parliament’s rapporteur on the file, Michael Gahler said: "Ukraine is making good progress in implementing reforms in connection with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. However, citizens are not yet enjoying a substantial improvement in their living conditions.”
“The fight against corruption must be carried out in a more determined manner. Steering the European course is the best remedy against Russia’s destabilising actions,” he added.
MEPs, in the cross-party motion, praised Ukraine for “good cooperation” in the energy sector and its achievements in the areas of energy efficiency and renewables, while pointing out the need to continue to reform, particularly in the gas and electricity market.
With Ukraine playing a “crucial” role in the European energy supply network, MEPs said they condemned the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which bypasses Ukraine.
Calling for it to be scrapped, they said “it is a political project that poses a threat to European energy security.”
"Ukraine is making good progress in implementing reforms in connection with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. However, citizens are not yet enjoying a substantial improvement in their living conditions” Michael Gahler MEP
The resolution also states that Ukraine should “prioritise” the fight against corruption, address the problems with oligarch power and continue with decentralisation reforms.
MEPs said they “regret” that the existing judicial system still remains ineffective, corrupt and politically dependent, yet support the ongoing efforts to address this issue.
Judges and prosecutors have to be selected in a more transparent and highly reliable manner, says the text.
The MEP comments come after the Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov recently became the first European Sakharov Prize Laureate in ten years, since Memorial in 2009, and the first Laureate from Ukraine. He was given the award in Strasbourg last week.
The comments also coincide with a warning on Friday from Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s minister for foreign affairs, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is tightening his grip on Ukraine.
Klimkin also calls for the international community to continue pressuring Moscow to release the 24 Ukrainian sailors who were captured by Russia last month in the Sea of Azov.
MEPs said that they “strongly condemned Russia‘s recent aggression” against Ukraine on 25 November in the Kerch Strait, and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all Ukrainian vessels and sailors.
They added that they were “seriously concerned” that the tension may constitute a creeping attempt to annex Ukraine‘s sovereign rights in the Sea of Azov.
Russia therefore has to guarantee the freedom of navigation through the Kerch Strait and in the Sea of Azov.
The resolution calls on the EU and its member states to introduce targeted sanctions against Russia if the Ukrainian servicemen are not released and if there is any further military escalation.
In the resolution, members also “strongly” criticised the rising number of physical attacks against civil rights activists and journalists and violence towards members of the Roma and LGBTI communities.
They demanded that the Russian Federation must immediately and unconditionally release the 2018 Sakharov Prize laureate Oleg Sentsov and all other illegally-detained Ukrainian citizens.
Ukraine signed its association agreement with the European Union in 2014 to strengthen the economic and political ties between the two. It entered into force in 2017.
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