Situation in Ukraine
Delivered in Plenary - 12th December 2012
I welcome the Councilís declaration on Ukraine, which recognises the European aspirations of this large, strategic country, of which I am very fond.
There is now a clear commitment and political will on both sides to sign an Association Agreement. My group, the ECR, would furthermore endorse a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with this country, which would offer benefits to all parties. Hopefully, this can be concluded by November 2013.
Nevertheless we cannot ignore the legitimate concerns pertaining to Ukraine over human rights matters, and in particular the way the executive continues to pursue a policy of selective justice which keeps Yulia Tymoshenko in prison and lets others go free.
My group therefore once again appeals to President Yanukovych to release her. There were also irregularities in the recent parliamentary elections. However these were not nearly as significant as some of us had feared. There was no evidence of mass falsification, and the opposition now occupies half of the parliament seats.
So, with this somewhat mixed bag, we further encourage and welcome Ukraineís European engagement. The alternative, the Eurasian Union, with authoritarian Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, would pull the country at large, and its talented people, in the wrong direction. In my view, Ukraine deserves much better.