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Ukraine

Strasbourg, 04/02/2014 (Agence Europe) – On 4 February, several of the European Parliament's group leaders called for elections in Ukraine. According to Yuri Miroshnichenko, the representative at the Parliament of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, Yanukovych could agree to hold early parliamentary elections in order to put an end to the political crisis. “We must insist so that a solution can be found around the negotiating table. The demands of the opposition for the elections to take place as soon as possible must be supported”, said leader of the S&D Group at the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda (Austria). “The only solution is to have a new government to prepare for elections, to prepare for a constitutional change so as to give more powers to the elected parliament and elected government, the reduction of the president's powers, the implementation of a sort of federal system to take account of each region's demands in the country, in order to enable a new start to relations between the EU and Ukraine and Ukraine and Russia”, Swoboda added.

In the view of Swoboda's counterpart in the EPP Group, Joseph Daul (France), if the situation does not improve “we need to go back to democracy (…). I don't pretend to know the result of democracy but a return to democracy must be made and what is happening in Ukraine must be stopped”. “In Europe and in Russia, we have a responsibility to make democracy work again”, he added, calling for a minimum of trust from both sides – government and opposition.

Questioned on the Ukrainian issue, Maja Kocijancic, the spokesperson for High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, stated that the EU underlines the need for a political resolution and she stated the elements that this resolution must contain. “We have spoken about elections that must be free and fair but it is up to the Ukrainians to decide when they must take place”, said Kocijancic. Meanwhile, Ashton was again in Kiev on Tuesday to meet members of the government and opposition.

In the view of Helmut Scholz (GUE, Germany), however, although an intermediary is needed to settle the crisis, this should be neither the EU, nor the USA, nor Russia “because we can't consider that they have an impartial attitude”. Rather, in Scholz's opinion, the Council of Europe or the OSCE could offer a forum for dialogue with all the political parties involved. The EU denies having the role of mediator but that of facilitator so the parties could talk would be better.

Call for financial aid and for visas to be frozen. Swoboda and Daul, like Greens vice-chair Rebecca Harms (Germany), called for financial aid for Ukraine – aid on which the EU is currently reflecting. In Swododa's view, it is “crucial that the EU and the US envisage Marshall Plan-type aid to be granted to this country. The aid could be granted with Russia's support if it really wants to cooperate and enable Ukraine to modernise”. “The EU, the US and the IMF must continue to prepare a long term project to support the country”, said Daul. Scholz regretted that the EU and IMF had been hesitant before the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius at the end of November and that they did not offer economic prospects for the country. On 3 February, the US confirmed that it is discussing possible aid with the EU, saying that this could be done “after the formation of a technical government and when the country resumes the path of economic recovery via the IMF”.

Harms, meanwhile, called for visas to be frozen for some Ukrainian leaders and their families – who are currently in the EU. “I've been calling for targeted sanctions for a long time – especially travel limitations for those in the regime's apparatus who are responsible for the violence and the attacks on human rights”, she said. She was amazed that those defending human rights cannot come to the EU because visas are expensive and difficult to obtain, when “those who are pillaging the country or are responsible for the escalation can obtain a Schengen visa – as can also be seen with the former Urkainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov, or the interim prime minister, Serhiy Arbuzov”.

At 3.00pm on 5 February, the Parliament will debate the situation in Ukraine and it is due to adopt a resolution the following day that Harms hopes will be “very severe”. (CG/transl.fl)