At the outset of the second part of Session I of the Meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees on Foreign Affairs of Parliaments and the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, Benediktas Juodka, Chair of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, informed the participants that this part will focus on the Ukrainian course in the context of the Eastern Partnership initiative.
Pat Cox, Member of the European Parliament monitoring mission to Ukraine, former President of the European Parliament, when speaking about the Eastern Partnership prospects, emphasised how important it was for the EU to give a clear signal to all Eastern Partnership countries with regard to their intentions indicating that “the door remains open”.
When elaborating on the Ukrainian case, Pat Cox said, “It is clear from opinion polls, and it is clear from what we can see with our eyes, that young Ukrainians in particular, irrespective of which part of Ukraine they live in, invest great hope and aspirations in associating their country’s future with Europe. And that is the generation for whom the door must remain clearly open, and for whom the aspiration should still be capable of being realised. In respect of the issues which have presented themselves in recent weeks, it is clear that the Government has felt under enormous pressure because of trade restrictions. [...] It is not clear what offer at this stage if any has been negotiated between senior politicians in Kiev and senior politicians in Moscow. There is much speculation about what may be on the table. And certainly, as regards the European Union, I am sure it would be helpful to know if there is a dialogue to continue after Vilnius, what it is exactly that is being suggested by the Russian side by way of economic assistance or gas price reductions or whatever. More to the point, but this is not my business, I am sure that the public opinion of Ukraine would like to know as regards the future of their country, what deals have been made and what conditions, if any, have been agreed to.”
Vitaliy Kalyuzhnyi, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Vrekhovna Rada of Ukraine, talked about the situation in the country and stressed that political forces representing different aspirations, have not assessed possible risks and consequences. He believed that the President of Ukraine understood his personal responsibility for the country and acted adequately by not rushing into signing the document, which he considered had many drawbacks. The Chair of the Committee said that it was not only about the document – they also made mistakes; the mistakes have to be corrected rather than multiplied. Vitaliy Kalyuzhnyi said that people, who were well aware of the situation, would be in charge of correcting the mistakes and draft the document in such a way that it was in line with the interests of the EU and Ukraine.
Vitali Klitschko, Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, had a different opinion, “Unfortunately, our European future was put at risk. President Yanukovych betrayed the future of the Ukrainian people. He put his business and political interests above the hopes of millions of Ukrainians, above dreams to live in society with the rule of law, with respect for human rights, and higher social standards. Their hopes were crashed. […] The Ukrainian society provides growing support for the European choice. Just look at the people in Kiev and many other cities and towns of Ukraine protest against the Government and support European integration”.
Elmar Brok, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, spoke about the reasons that had determined the current situation of Ukraine, “If there is a lesson to be learnt it is perhaps precisely this – that we have to act more strategically and use all our policies in a more coherent and strategic way. We have to learn this if we want to be strong political actors in our neighbourhood. It is difficult because decisions have to be taken among 28 but we can do it if we have a strong leadership (and this is why I believe that we need a strong European External Action Service.” When speaking about prospects for Ukraine, the Chair of the EP Committee said, “What should we do now? I think we should keep our door open and our eyes well open too. What is happening in Ukraine these days is worrying. The clash between pro-European and conservative forces risks splitting the country. We therefore must keep the intense dialogue open, support the pro-European forces and engage in a campaign to counteract the misinformation around the implications of the Association Agreement. Despite the failed signature of the Association Agreement with Ukraine which overshadows the Vilnius Summit, I believe in the Eastern Partnership.”
Monika Kutkaitytė, Public Relations Unit, tel. +370 8 5 239 6666, e-mail: [email protected]