27 February 2014
The dramatic events in Ukraine that led to more than 80 deaths and President Viktor Yanukovych being removed from power changed the country and the EU should step in now to support democracy, MEPs from across the political spectrum said in a plenary debate on its future on 26 February. Speakers paid tribute to Ukrainians' courage and underlined that they should be able to freely determine the future of their own country. Speaking on behalf of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, enlargement commissioner tefan Füle outlined three elements required for a lasting solution: a comprehensive constitutional reform, formation of a new inclusive government, and free and fair elections. He said the situation put a great responsibility on the new Ukrainian government to deliver the changes that people have asked for and on the EU to ensure that these changes are sustainable.
José Ignacio Salafranca, a Spanish member of the EPP group, said: “It's taken three months to get rid of President Yanukovych, but the stability of the country and the recovery of its economy will certainly take a lot longer than that.” He added: “The European Union must lead an international donors conference together with the United States, Russia, the International Monetary Fund and other important actors.” Hannes Swoboda, the Austrian leader of the S&D group, called for reforms in Ukraine and said: This is a step-by-step process, but it has to start now.” He also stressed that at the end of the road EU membership should be possible and urged Russia to try to make friends with the Ukrainian people, not only with the oligarchs . Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian leader of the ALDE group, said the protests were not against Russia, but against “the crooks and the oligarchs” in power in Ukraine. He said the EU could have launched sanctions earlier, but that when announced, they proved to be a “gamechanger . He also called for visa facilitation for Ukrainians. Rebecca Harms, the German co-chair of the Green group, said: “The people of Ukraine have got our support and commitment and this is something they value and want.” Ryszard Czarnecki, a Polish member of the ECR group, said: “We should not be deaf to Ukraine knocking on Europe's door and we should say clearly that in some future there is a room for Ukraine in the European Union.” The change of power in Kiev appears to have gone through as desired, but the social conflict that has been tearing Ukraine apart for years is far from being solved, said Helmut Scholz, a German member of the GUE/NGL group. Jacek Kurski, a Polish member of the EFD group, criticised the EU's reaction to the crisis, saying it laid bare our passivity, we acted in a very weak and meek manner whereas Russia acted strong”.
Brussels, 26/02/2014 (Agence Europe) – During a debate in plenary at the European Parliament on Wednesday 26 February, various MEPs called for the European Union to supply financial aid to Ukraine as a matter of urgency, and many called for a donor conference to be arranged.
On behalf of the EPP, Ignacio Salafranca (Spain) said the European Union had to provide an urgent response to the request from Ukraine. The provisional Ukrainian prime minister says his country is on the brink of collapse and Salafranca said the EU should organise an international donor conference with the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the International Monetary Fund. The EU must not deal with this issue on its own, but needs to take a wider view, said Libor Roucek (S&D, the Czech Republic).
On behalf of the ALDE Group, Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) said a credible common strategy was required. He said the European Commission was busy preparing a macroeconomic aid instrument and rather than waiting for a donor conference, the EU should take action in the next few days or weeks. Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, Germany) said that aid had to be accompanied by conditions and transparency about what was done with the money.
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Füle said the Commission was prepared to work rapidly with a future government of Ukraine that is committed to economic and political reforms, and was prepared to intervene in the form of aid. He said the Commission was working with all international partners to provide sustainable economic and financial aid to deal with the challenges facing the country. He hoped the ECOFIN Council and IMF would send experts to find out what the genuine needs were in the country.
Association agreement. The MEPs highlighted the need to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as quickly as possible. On behalf of her political party, Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, Germany) said the association agreement should be prepared and signed as soon as possible. Charles Tannock (ECR, United Kingdom) said it should be signed as soon as there is a new government after the 25 May elections. The MEPs recommended an easing of visa requirements for Ukraine passport holders. Hannes Swoboda said on behalf of the S&D that they were calling on the Commission to look into a relaxing of visa requirements and when this might be possible. He called for the respect of minorities and the unity of the country.
Russia prepares for war. Meanwhile, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has ordered a surprise inspection of Russian troops in the west, not far from Ukraine, and in the centre to see whether they are ready for action. Russia is stepping up protection of its fleet in the Black Sea and the Russian base at the port of Sebastopol in Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine. Crimea's capital Simferopol is the scene of clashes between pro-Russians and supporters of the provisional Ukrainian government. (CG)