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EU-Ukraine summit condemns Russia

Ukraine's president Zelenskiy with EU leaders Tusk and Juncker. © European Union, 2019

The EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv yesterday was described as a success by both sides. The summit resulted in a joint statement where the EU and Ukraine expressed their common commitment to further strengthening their political and economic ties. EU was bluntly in its critique against Russia´s actions against Ukraine.

The 21st summit was the first one for the 41-year old Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. After his landslide victory last April, he chose Brussels as the destination of his first visit broad, a step that was welcomed by the EU. In the elections the Ukrainians voted for change in protest against the incumbent president Poroshenko.

“The results of the summit were predictable,” said John Lough, an Associate Fellow with the Ukraine Forum at Chatham House in London, to The Brussels Times. “The EU remains committed to supporting Ukraine and hopes that a Zelenskiy presidency can advance the reform agenda, particularly in the area of anti-corruption.”

Parliamentary elections in Ukraine will take place on 21 July. “Until elections have taken place and a new government formed, it is hard to tell whether Zelenskiy can transform his impressive rhetoric into reality,” said Lough.

According to European Council President Donald Tusk, the EU-Ukraine partnership is built on an Association Agreement “which is the most comprehensive agreement that the EU has with any country.”

In the joint statement, EU underlined its “substantial and unwavering support for Ukraine and its link to the effective implementation of reforms and policy measures”. It recognised “the substantial progress made by Ukraine in its reform process, in areas such as health care, decentralization, pensions, public administration, public procurement”.

EU and Ukraine agreed on the importance of accelerating these efforts, in particular in the fight against corruption. They welcomed the recent appointment of judges to the High Anti-Corruption Court and progress towards making the High Anti-Corruption Court operational.

They also reiterated their “strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014”. Only a few days ago, the EU unanimously extended the economic sanctions against Russia for another six months. The sanctions will remain in place until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented.

The statement recalls that July 17th will mark 5 years since the downing of flight MH17, which claimed the lives of 298 victims. “We looked forward to the effective prosecution of those responsible for this tragedy and called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to cooperate fully with all efforts to establish accountability.”

Ahead of the summit, Tusk travelled with Zelenskiy to Stanytsia Luhanska, a crossing-point to the non-government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine. “I witnessed the critical situation in which people affected by conflict live. The EU stands ready to support reconstruction, once the Minsk agreements are implemented,” he said.

The Brussels Times

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