Ukraine harshly criticized in European Parliament’s report on Association Agreement implementation
The European Parliament approved a resolution on Ukraine’s implementation of the Association Agreement: corruption inhibiting reforms, lack of political will to ensure the independence of judicial institutions, and more – Ukraine has been harshly criticized.
The resolution was supported by 676 MPs.
The results of the vote, which took place on Wednesday evening as part of the plenary session of the European Parliament, were announced on Thursday morning, as the majority of MPs due to the restrictive measures introduced due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic take part by video link and vote via email. The spokesperson on Ukraine was a deputy from the European People’s Party Michael Haller (Germany).
The document consists of several parts: a preamble and subsections. The preamble itself consists of 61 points, which contain criticism of Kyiv, while the report has nine sections, which include 137 clauses.
In particular, the preamble states that Ukraine has a European perspective in accordance with Article 49 and can apply to join the Union, provided that it adheres to all Copenhagen criteria and principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms, human and minority rights and supports the rule law.
It is also stated that the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit recognized Ukraine’s European aspirations, welcomed its European choice, acknowledged the significant progress made by Ukraine in the reform process, and welcomed the results already achieved in the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
Separately, this is about local elections, which says that, in accordance with the assessment of civil society and experts, local party organizations, candidates and members of election commissions could not properly prepare for the registration of candidates, since the Electoral Code was adopted immediately before the election process, and as well as the introduction of top-down control mechanisms that reinforce the principle of an imperative mandate, as well as linking party lists to a minimum number of voters of 10,000, weaken the democratic nature of elections.
The spokesperson also dwelled on the analysis of the work of the Verkhovna Rada: the pace of legislative activity, especially in the second half of 2019, for the rapid implementation of the reform promised during the election campaigns, was especially continuous, sometimes at the expense of parliamentary control, transparency and the quality of legislation.
At the same time, the resolution states that, while Ukraine has made significant progress in fulfilling the obligations associated with the Association and Integration Agreement with the Union, it is necessary to complete several initiated reforms: in the field of the rule of law, good governance and the fight against corruption.
Despite notable progress, widespread corruption continues to hamper the reform process in Ukraine, and the ongoing constitutional crisis poses a threat to the president’s and the Verkhovna Rada’s ability to reform, the spokesman said adding that the oligarchs seem to be re-establishing political influence it also needs to be borne in mind that there are still some additional steps to be taken to avoid a rollback with a focus on the judiciary.
According to the resolution, the full potential of the ongoing reforms is not being implemented due to the dynamics of the reform process and related institutional problems, and reforms are also undermined by internal institutional instability and contradictions, lack of clear guidelines, weak capacity, limited resources and external factors such as COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a lack of political resolve to accept and ensure the full independence of judicial and economic institutions and the non-selective use of justice.
In addition, it is stated, based on a recent report from the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, that there is no progress in Ukraine in the criminal proceedings of serious human rights violations allegedly committed by members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as delay and insufficient progress in the investigation of crimes related to Maidan.
There is also a link to a recent report by Transparency International, according to which the perception of corruption in Ukraine has dropped to the level of 2017.
It also takes into account the fact that support for modernization, de-oligarchization, reform and the fight against corruption is still very high among Ukrainian citizens, and these expectations should be met without further delay.
Separately, the general situation in the security sector is recorded, which worsens the situation in the country as a whole. Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, as well as its ability to carry out the necessary economic and social reforms, is still seriously undermined by targeted disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks and other hybrid threats, as well as due to the unresolved conflict in the east of the country caused by the ongoing Russian military aggression and occupation of large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as the continuing illegal occupation and annexation by Russia of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which worsen the human rights situation and constitute an obstacle to the country’s welfare, stability and growth.
In this regard, it is also reminded of the position of the EU, which strongly condemned the ongoing aggression of Russia against Ukraine, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol in violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, established and will continue the policy of non-recognition and continues to apply restrictive measures against individuals and legal entities, implicated in this violation of international law.
The resolution also recalled the MH17 shot down in the context of Russia’s efforts to undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine, in respect of which the Netherlands-led Joint Investigation Team confirmed that flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile delivered by Kursk-based 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Ground Forces.
The resolution also displays in detail the situation about the war in the east of Ukraine, with reference to the number of killed, temporarily displaced, held in prisons of Ukrainians, about the humanitarian crisis, about the deterioration of the human rights situation both in the east and on the Crimean peninsula, the persecution of Crimean Tatars for political motives.
The officials also mention the situation with freedom of the press, the need to loosen the oligarchs’ tight grip on the media, encourage editorial independence and fight impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.
The European Parliament regrets that the political climate in the country has deteriorated when intimidation, hate speech and political pressure are widely used for political purposes; urges the authorities to strongly condemn and ban the activities of extremist and hate speech groups and websites such as Peacemaker, who create tension in society and misuse the personal data of hundreds of people, including journalists, politicians and members of minority groups.
In addition, the situation with gender equality, LGBTQ and Roma was raised. The implementation of the Association Agreement in the social sphere remains unsatisfactory, since Ukraine has ratified the main international instruments, but still does not fulfill them, the Parliament’s officials said in the document.