“Ukraine needs Europe and Europe needs to support Ukraine,” said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), speaking at the end of a two-day working visit to Kyiv (15-16 January 2015) together with leaders of the Assembly’s political groups.
In meetings with President Poroshenko, Speaker Groysman, Prime Minister Yatseniuk and Foreign Affairs Minister Klimkin, she expressed her condolonces over the tragic deaths of 12 civilians following a rocket attack near Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine. “My thoughts go to the family and friends of the victims, as well as to those injured in the attack,” said Ms Brasseur, who used the occasion to call for the immediate implementation of the Minsk Peace Plan by all parties, including the Russian Federation, and respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. “Violence and terror directed at civilians can never be justified,” she added.
During the high-level meetings, Ms Brasseur highlighted the importance of the need for transparency and accountability for any human rights abuses committed in Ukraine, whether during the Maidan, or in Odessa, the east of the country, or elsewhere.
“Ukraine needs the help and support of Europe to move forward,” she said, “not only in dealing with the recent and continuing conflict and violence, but also in building democratic structures and coping with the economic crisis facing the country. To do this the country needs the political and economic support of Europe to help it carry out tough and urgent reforms, including of the constitution, decentralisation of powers to the regions, reform of the judiciary and the election law, combating corruption and tackling, in a fair way, the issue of lustration.” Ms Brasseur added that these reforms would require tough decisions by tough people and would not be easy to negotiate. “The Government, the Parliament, the President and civil society will need to work together if they want long-term gain for the people of Ukraine.”
The President also noted the high humanitarian toll of the conflict in the east of the country, not just deaths and injuries, but also in terms of displaced persons and refugees. She pointed out that the Assembly would be debating the humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons at the forthcoming plenary session of the Assembly in January.
“The only way to bring this humanitarian catastrophe to an end is to fully implement the Minsk Peace Process.” She added that one of the elements of the Minsk protocol was for the “immediate release of all hostages and illegally held persons”. “In this respect,” she said, “I call for their immediate release, and amongst these persons I include the pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who is currently held by the Russian authorities. Ms Savchenko has now been appointed to the Ukrainian delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly and there are many grounds for her release, not least humanitarian, as her health continues to deteriorate as a result of her hunger strike.” Ms Brasseur said she would be taking up this issue with the Russian authorities.
The President ended by thanking all her high-level interlocutors for their constructive approach in discussions, and looked forward to working with the new delegation of Ukraine to the Assembly during the January session.