European Parliament, Strasbourg ; Kiev, Ukraine
SOURCE: S&D Group at European Parliament
Ukraine: Comprehensive Economic Reform and Crackdown on Corruption Necessary for EU Engagement
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said:
"The rapid developments of the past weeks have given way to a new transitional leadership. Ukraine must now at all costs avoid retaliation and discrimination, and do everything possible to maintain territorial integrity.
"We welcome the announcement of presidential elections to give the Ukrainian people a voice in their future. To ensure a full democratic transition, anticipated legislative elections should also be held.
"The new authorities in Kiev will need to develop a long-term strategy for comprehensive economic reforms and the fight against corruption. This is the necessary basis for long-term engagement with the European Union. We must not disappoint the hopes of the people who fought for Ukraine to engage with its European neighbours.
"Any serious process for a peaceful future for Ukraine must involve dialogue with Russia. I am concerned about Moscow's rhetoric towards the interim government in Kiev. In the interests of supporting Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, Mr Putin should recognise the new leaders, especially after the presidential elections. It is interesting that he sees fit to recognise the governments in South Ossetia and Abkhazia but not Ukraine."
The S&D Group also welcomed the joint resolution on Ukraine adopted today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Libor Rouček, S&D vice-president for neighbourhood and enlargement policies, said:
"The S&D Group – and the European Parliament as a whole – wholeheartedly supports the democratic and European aspirations of the Ukrainian people. After the historic events of recent days, Ukraine deserves the EU's maximum support and assistance as it embarks on a difficult period of political transition.
"We welcome the formation of a new coalition government in Kiev. It faces immense and immediate challenges, above all to stabilise the economic situation and to deliver on people's expectations of democratic governance, accountability and transparency, and the rule of law. Just as urgently, the new government must work to restore a sense of national unity, especially in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, and minimise the risk of confrontations along ethnic or linguistic lines. It is essential that all political forces remain committed to an inclusive political process to avoid renewed violence or territorial fragmentation.
"The S&D Group is concerned about the volatile situation in Crimea. While fully respecting the people's right to peaceful protest, we urge all sides to exercise the utmost restraint. The demands of the Russian-speaking community in Crimea must be addressed in a peaceful way – not through violence. A mutually acceptable political solution must be found to ensure the maximum protection for minority rights and to preserve Ukraine's territorial integrity.
"We encourage Russia to use its influence in a positive and constructive way, and refrain from action that might lead to escalating violence and separatist tendencies in Crimea. Such a scenario would be disastrous for Ukraine and for European stability. It is in Russia's own interests to work with the new authorities in Kiev, and with the EU, to help defuse the current tensions and reach a lasting political solution in Ukraine."
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