Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Polish Parliamentarians lobby for Ukraine in EP

Unian (Ukraine) - 15 October 2004

Kyiv. 15 October. UNIAN. The presidential elections in Ukraine are an opportunity for a change in the Ukrainian policy course and the EU cannot remain indifferent in the face of this, Polish MEPs and representatives of non-governmental organizations argued in Brussels on Tuesday, according to PAP news agency.

"The EU cannot remain indifferent in the face of the elections in Ukraine and it must not be afraid of adopting a stance in the case of any irregularities, because it is on the results of these elections that the future of relations between Ukraine and the EU depends," said Jakub Boratynski of the Batory Foundation, which was one of the organizers of the debate.

The Batory Foundation, together with the International Relations Centre [CSM] and Strategic Studies Institute [ISS], with which two Polish MEPs are associated, Janusz Onyszkiewicz (of the Freedom Union - UW) and Bogdan Klich (of the Civic Platform - PO), presented a report on the situation inside Ukraine in the context of the elections that are planned for 31 October. It states clearly that these elections are an opportunity for a change in the course of Ukrainian policy.

"We would all like Ukraine to confirm its European aspirations," Onyszkiewicz said. In his view, both NATO entry and EU entry are aims that are being questioned by the present prime minister of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who is running in the elections. "I think that the option that as being proposed by Yanukovych, that is closer cooperation with Russia in the framework of a single economic area, precludes the possibility of closer ties with the EU," he added.

Unfortunately, according to the Polish participants in the debate, the EU is not speaking out on Ukrainian matters as firmly and as clearly as is expected by Poland.

"Most of the deputies in the European Parliament treat Ukraine as being like some Zanzibar in Eastern Europe. The intention of this meeting is to present recommendations that MEPs can take advantage of when an official European Parliament report is written," PAP was told by Bogdan Klich. "So that they be able to adopt an appropriate stance," Onyszkiewicz added.

The participants in the debate spoke several times about the infringement of standards during the election campaign in Ukraine. "These elections are not being conducted in accordance with standards. Over and above issues of criminality, such as various killings and the poisoning of (opposition candidate Viktor) Yushchenko, access to the media is being hindered and the entire state apparatus is acting in support of one candidate," Onyszkiewicz stated.

He also said that even if the elections take place "without reservations in the sense of the counting of the vote", the question will arise of whether or not to recognize them. Here the EU has a task before it.

"It is important to react to all manifestations of the breaking of the democratic principles of elections," Klich said. In his view, before it publishes its report the European Parliament should issue a resolution immediately after the completion of the elections in Ukraine.

Around 50 people took part in the debate organized at the headquarters of the European Parliament, mostly MEPs. Also present was Oleh Rybachuk, a collaborator of Viktor Yushchenko. No representative of Viktor Yanukovych took advantage of an invitation.

The commitment of the Poles to Ukrainian matters was acknowledged by Charles Tannock, a British MEP from the European People's Party. "The subject matter of Ukraine has appeared very strongly in the European Parliament with the entry of Poland into the EU," he said.

Tannock is to be one of the European Parliament observers during the course of the elections in Ukraine. Filip Adwent (of the League of Polish Families - LPR) and Marek Siwiec (of the Democratic Left Alliance - SLD) will also be travelling to Kiev. The latter was selected on Monday [11 October] as the head of the EU delegation for relations with Ukraine. [The Action Ukraine Report Monitoring Service -Kyiv)