Following their visit to Kyiv, the two co-rapporteurs for Ukraine of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE) and Jean-Claude Mignon (France, EPP/CD), have encouraged the authorities to continue and further the important reforms that are needed for the country.
They welcomed the legislative package for reforming the judiciary but, as on previous occasions, highlighted the fact that constitutional changes are needed to allow for the implementation of these reforms and to ensure the genuine independence of the judiciary. “Constitutional reforms are the cornerstone of all reform in Ukraine, but the time-frame to adopt Constitutional amendments is getting smaller,” pointed out the co-rapporteurs. They noted that the Constitutional amendments foreseen in February’s Minsk agreement need to be adopted in the first instance by mid-June this year. “Regrettably this is too short a time-frame to prepare and adopt a comprehensive constitutional reform package. The authorities should now focus on adopting the judicial and decentralisation chapters in June. However, the other chapters should be elaborated immediately after that,” they said.
The co-rapporteurs took note of the work on a new local election code and expressed their hope that the adoption of such a law would take place in the very near future. “The next local elections are scheduled to take place in October. These elections are crucial to ensure local authorities that have the legitimacy to implement the decentralisation process. In addition, the conduct of genuinely democratic elections, under Ukrainian law, in the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk – areas that are currently not under the control of the government in Kyiv – will provide the authorities with legitimate counterparts to implement the Minsk agreements. These local elections cannot therefore be postponed to a later stage, as some have suggested,” emphasised the co-rapporteurs.
While expressing their concern at the fragile nature and continuing violations of the ceasefire agreement, the co-rapporteurs welcomed the focus given by the Trilateral Contact group and Normandy format Ministers of Foreign Affairs to strengthening the political process agreed upon in Minsk, including the setting up of the working groups, to which they believe the Council of Europe and its Assembly can make an important contribution.
During their visit the co-rapporteurs discussed the Lustration Law as well as the concerns expressed in the recent interim opinion of the Venice Commission on this law. Noting that the lustration process is on-going, the rapporteurs called on the authorities to promptly adopt the promised amendments to this law with a view to addressing the remaining concerns and recommendation of the Venice Commission.
The co-rapporteurs will return to the country in May this year and visit Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and possibly Mariupol, in addition to Kyiv.