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Supporting Ukraine along its road towards the European Union

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has met with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kozhara in Berlin. It was Kozhara’s first official visit since assuming office at the end of last December. The talks focused on Ukraine’s progress towards the EU.

Ukraine is an important partner for Germany. In terms of surface area, it is the second largest country in Europe and, with almost 50 million inhabitants, has considerable clout. Foreign Minister Westerwelle stressed that “the European project would remain incomplete without an ever closer partnership with Ukraine”. Only the day before, the Ukrainian Government met with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, in Brussels for the 16th EU-Ukraine Summit. Westerwelle added that “this close exchange (…) demonstrates that we have a great mutual interest in each other”.

An association agreement is intended to gradually bring Ukraine closer to the EU in both economic and political terms. Its core element is a comprehensive free-trade agreement. The association agreement was initialled last year. Both sides would benefit from this agreement in economic, political and social terms. However, the agreement has still to be signed. For the EU is concerned about the situation in Ukraine with regard to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. At the EU-Ukraine Summit on 25 February, European Council President Van Rompuy made clear that, for the agreement to be signed, tangible progress was required in these areas.

Ukraine has faced criticism above all because of the prison sentences passed down to several former government members. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is being held in prison for alleged abuse of office. Due to health problems, however, she is currently treated in hospital. Further proceedings have been instituted against her.

Internal reform necessary

In the talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Minister Westerwelle once again outlined the German Government’s position. He stated that Yulia Tymoshenko and other imprisoned former government members were entitled to a fair trial. He added that any impression of a selective and politically motivated judiciary must be avoided. The sick opposition politician also had the right to adequate medical treatment, the Minister underlined.

Kozhara reiterated that Ukraine wants to fulfil all conditions so that the association agreement can be signed. This is to be done by the time of the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius (Lithuania) in November 2013. Foreign Minister Westerwelle expressed the German Government’s clear interest in Ukraine’s ”European perspective”. Conversely, this perspective was linked to “expectations of internal reform”. Westerwelle added that Germany wanted “to do all it can” to support those reforms “necessary for Ukraine’s European course”.


Last updated 26.02.2013

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