Association Agreement between EU and Ukraine is a holistic and indivisible international legal instrument
Taking note of the proposal ‘to divide the Association Agreement into political and economic components’ and ‘to sign the political part’ separately, which we believe is technically impossible, has motivated the non-governmental organization who are members of the Ukrainian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, to make the following declaration:
The Ukrainian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum welcomes the willingness of the European Union and the Government of Ukraine to sign the Association Agreement in the nearest future.
We consider the Agreement a comprehensive, holistic and indivisible document, which, in its totality, not only ensures political rapprochement between the EU and Ukraine, but also guarantees support to the reforms that are vital for the future development of Ukraine. We welcome the declared readiness of the EU to introduce immediately and unilaterally trade preferences for Ukraine which have been indicated in the Agreement. We support the intent of the parties to embrace economic difficulties that Ukraine has faced and, possibly, to delay coming into force of certain economic and trade components of the Agreement. At the same time, we support the formula according to which the Agreement remains a holistic and indivisible international legal instrument.”
The European Union does not recognize the “illegal referendum” in Crimea. EU foreign ministers, meeting in the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels today strongly condemned the vote as being in breach of the Ukrainian Constitution and decided to introduce travel restrictions and an asset freeze against persons responsible for the escalation around Ukraine.
A press release said 21 persons have been identified and targeted with a travel ban and a freeze of their assets within the EU, adding the sanctions enter into force today.
The vote was held “in the visible presence of armed soldiers under conditions of intimidation of civic activists and journalists, blacking out of Ukrainian television channels and obstruction of civilian traffic in and out of Crimea,” the Council Conclusions said.
Foreign ministers deplored further signs of increasing Russian military build-up in Crimea and denial of access to the peninsula to UN and OSCE representatives and missions invited by the Ukrainian government as being “in clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The Council recalled the Statement of the EU Heads of State and Government of 6 March urging Ukraine and Russia to start talks within a few days, including through multilateral mechanisms, and produce results within a limited timeframe. In light of the developments of last week, and in the absence of any such results, the Council has decided to introduce additional measures, “including travel restrictions and an asset freeze against persons responsible for actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, including actions on the future status of any part of the territory which are contrary to the Ukrainian Constitution, and persons, and entities associated with them.”
Ministers urged Russia to take steps to de-escalate the crisis, withdraw its forces back to the barracks without delay, begin direct discussions with Kyiv and use all relevant international mechanisms to find a peaceful and negotiated solution, “in full respect of its bilateral and multilateral commitments to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
There is still time to reverse current developments, the Conclusions said, reiterating the EU’s commitment to developing the EU-Russia relationship based on mutual interest and respect for international law
The Council urged Moscow not to take steps to annex Crimea in violation of international law. Any further steps by Russia to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far-reaching consequences for EU-Russia relations, ministers said, urging Russia “to return to developing a strategic partnership with the EU instead of isolating itself further diplomatically and economically”
The Council stressed the need for an international presence on the ground throughout Ukraine, including in Crimea, calling for the swift deployment of an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
The Council welcomed the Commission’s proposal for temporarily removing customs duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU, supported the signature of the political provisions of the Association Agreement, due on 21 March in Brussels, and “confirmed its commitment to proceed to the signature and conclusion of the remaining parts of the Agreement which together with the political provisions constitute a single instrument.”
The EU is committed to provide strong financial support to Ukraine’s economic and financial stabilization, and to assist the country in securing its energy supply through further diversification, enhanced energy efficiency, and effective interconnections with the EU, the Conclusions said.
The EU commended “the measured response shown so far by Ukraine” and urged Kyiv to ensure free and fair elections and to advance constitutional reform. Ministers stressed the need to investigate all human rights violations and acts of violence, and to step up measures to combat impunity. The EU also urged the Ukrainian authorities “to continue to reach out to all Ukrainian regions and population groups and to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.”
The Council reiterated the EU’s commitment to enhance people-to-people contacts between the citizens of the EU and Ukraine, in particular through the visa liberalisation process, in line with agreed conditions in the framework of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, the Conclusions said.(EU Neighbourhood Info)
EIB launches Eastern Partnership Committee, sizes up €3 billion support package for Ukraine
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has hosted the inaugural session of the Eastern Partnership Committee, which comprises representatives of the Bank, partner countries, EU member states, the European Commission and the European External Action Service. At its meeting yesterday, the committee provided guidance on the EIB’s investment strategies in partner countries and made a valuable input into the Bank’s indicative business plan for the coming years, a press release said.
Participants were also informed about the EIB’s potential for contributing to an EU support package for Ukraine, with long-term loans of up to €3 billion by 2016.
The Committee was launched in the wake of the 2013 Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit, providing the EIB an opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with the countries where it operates.
“The Eastern Partnership is one of the most rapidly growing and dynamic regions in terms of EIB lending. We wish to keep up this momentum,” said EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer. Since extending its activity to the Eastern Partnership region in 2007, the EIB has provided a total of €3.2 billion in long-term loans in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The EIB will also be extending its operation to Azerbaijan after the entry into force of the Framework agreement of early 2013. (EU Neighbourhood Info)