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“Don’t forget about Ukraine”

2 March 2016

“Don’t forget about Ukraine”

The Ukraine Week in the European Parliament from the 29th of February to the 2nd of March 2016 makes us aware that we should not forget about Ukraine.

The Ukraine Week in the European Parliament from the 29th of February to the 2nd of March 2016 makes us aware that we should not forget about Ukraine. The event serves as a means of showing a persistent focus on the situation in Ukraine since the Euromaidan in February 2014. The evident desire for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine to improve the situation in Ukraine is undoubtedly a sign that Ukraine is not forgotten and should not be forgotten.

“Ukraine remains a beacon for those who aspire to our democratic values and freedoms, and it has made a heavy sacrifice in loss of life to fight for its right as a European country and to proceed on the path towards Euro-Atlantic integration. I was one of the first to write an article, more than a decade ago, supporting Ukraine as a potential EU candidate, well before anybody else had considered it in this light. I did not forget Ukraine then and we certainly shouldn’t forget it now as a large European country under enormous pressure from its authoritarian neighbour”

(Charles Tannock, Member of the ECR Group).

The three-day conference focused on the cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, stated that there are no signs of tiredness of Ukraine in the European Parliament, and emphasized the importance of solidarity and working together on democracy in order to create a more stable Ukraine. Supporting this fact, Elmar Brok, Chair of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, stated, that it is important to continue the commitment and support to Ukraine.

The Ukraine conference takes stock of progress in the implementation of reforms in Ukraine and aims to improve good parliamentary practice and law-making in the country. Former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, presented a roadmap on internal reform and capacity-building for the Ukraine Parliament, Verkhovna Rada. The report serves as a platform for discussion on the implementation of the recommendations to the Ukraine Parliament. Pat Cox’s lively engagement is evident, and he stresses the importance of the cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, and the need for Ukraine to build a system based on democracy, as we know it from the Age of Enlightenment. He claims that no democracy can function without institutions, and that the blood and sweat which the Ukrainians have spilled to obtain democracy, will be vain if the EU and Ukraine do not work together. As an example he explains how the roadmap of recommendations to the Ukraine Parliament is actually a team work between both European and Ukrainian consultants.

There is a clear sense of mutual engagement and understanding during the conference which drives the discussion towards a need for action and solution. EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, stressed the fact that the Ukraine Parliament needs to implement the reform on better legislation now. Otherwise, they will not be able to beat the corruption which still exists on a high level in Ukraine. He appeals to Ukrainians to be persistent and consistent in the work they have started.

ECR Group MEP and Member of Committee on Foreign Affairs , Mark Demesmaeker, also encourages the Ukrainians to stick to their commitment and keep up the hard work: “What I see is that a lot of Parliamentarians have great concerns about political stability so I hope we could get some answers on how serious the drive for reform is in Ukraine, because that is what we need to see. A lot of people in Ukraine have voted and have chosen it. So don’t have a break now but push the gas pedal for real reforms – that’s all I think we want to see”.

President of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Volodymyr Groysman, expresses the heartfelt wish of the Ukrainians to fulfill the demands from the EU and to implement the recommendations. Groysman highlights the current challenges in Ukraine, among those the “government crisis”, and claims that the Verkhovna Rada is prepared to strengthen democracy and make a rebirth of institution capacities. He states that the political will to change exists in Ukraine, and that they have actually opened their hearts to Europe. Their main goals for the future are to implement the Minsk Agreement and prevent Russia from further aggressions, and that all future elections shall be democratic.

The signature of a cooperation agreement between the General Secretariats of the European Parliament and the Ukraine Parliament as a closure of the conference indicates the EU’s further engagement in Ukraine and the Ukraine’s persistent will to change.

ECR Group Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ryszard Czarnecki, hosted a reception for the visiting parliamentarians. He said: “Maidan is, and always has been, the symbol of hope, the symbol of a European Ukraine.”

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