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ECR MEPs meet with Ukrainian President and senior politicians ahead of crucial Vilnius summit

A delegation of ECR Group MEPs met today with the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to express their hopes for a successful Eastern Partnership Summit at the end of this month.

A delegation of European Conservatives and Reformists Group MEPs met today with the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to express their hopes for a successful Eastern Partnership Summit at the end of this month.

The group, headed by ECR leader Martin Callanan, was in Kiev for meetings ahead of a number of critical moments in EU-Ukrainian relations, including a parliamentary debate on allowing Yulia Tymoshenko to travel abroad for treatment, and a decision by the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on whether to sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine.

Mr Callanan expressed his hope that the Council will be in a position to sign the agreement, which it committed to doing once it saw ‘determined action and tangible progress’ by Ukraine.

The ECR has enjoyed a strong relationship with Ukraine. Pawel Kowal MEP chairs the parliament’s delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and he chaired the parliament’s 2012 election observation mission. Professor Ryszard Legutko is standing rapporteur on Ukraine in the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Charles Tannock has been a long-time friend of Ukraine, where he was created a knight of the “Order for merits” 3rd Grade in August 2006.

Mr Kowal, who was the first MEP to visit Tymoshenko in jail, has said that the ECR does not have vested party political interests in Ukraine like other political forces, so it has been able to act as a balancing force in the ongoing talks.

The MEPs also met with Prime Minister Azarov, Foreign Minister Kozhara, Verkhovna Rada speaker Rybak, Batkivshchyna party leader Yatsenyuk, UDAR party leader Klitchko, and other leading Members of Parliament and the Government.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Callanan said:

“We were in Kiev to reinforce that we want the EU to be in a position where it can sign an Association Agreement later this month. The ECR has been a leading advocate of strengthening relations with Ukraine, provided basic values are maintained.

“We have an opportunity in the next few weeks to anchor the EU and Ukraine together in a new relationship. We hope that Ukraine will take the opportunity, which we believe will be in both our interests.”

Pawel Kowal, chairman of the parliament’s delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, said:

“The ECR has always sought to take a balanced position in Ukrainian matters. We have an interest in improving relations with our Eastern Partnership but, as we have no obvious party political interest in Ukraine, we are able to mediate between different factions. We will continue to act as an honest broker in the interests of improving EU-Ukrainian relations, and providing a satisfactory outcome to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko.”

Dr Charles Tannock, ECR Foreign Affairs spokesman, said:

“Yulia Tymoshenko’s release for treatment is an important factor that will be taken into account ahead of the potential signature of the agreement in Vilnius. Economically and politically this agreement is of benefit to both sides and we look to Ukraine to do what is needed to ensure its signature this month.”

ENDS

Notes: The ECR delegation consisted of Martin Callanan, Pawel Kowal, Charles Tannock, Ryszard Czarnecki and Adam Bielan.

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