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Ukraine: co-rapporteurs urge parliament to press ahead on decentralisation

The co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Ukraine by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jordi Xuclà (Spain, ALDE) and Axel Fischer (Germany, EPP/CD), ending a visit to the country, have urged Ukraine’s parliamentarians to press ahead with constitutional changes on decentralisation.

“These constitutional amendments are often referred to in the context of the Minsk process, but they go far beyond that. They contain key provisions that should bring the government closer to the people and ensure the political stability and unity of the country, irrespective of Minsk,” they said, speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Kyiv (1-3 February 2016).

“If anything, decentralisation will equip the country better to deal with the ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine. What’s more, any delay in adoption of these amendments could be misconstrued as Ukraine lagging behind on its commitments under the Minsk agreements,” they said.

The co-rapporteurs also welcomed the adoption at first reading of the constitutional amendments regarding the judiciary, but cautioned that some of the transitional provisions may not be in line with recommendations of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s group of independent legal experts.

“Nonetheless, these changes are critical to creating a genuinely independent judiciary and prosecution service in Ukraine. We look forward to their final adoption during the next parliamentary session.”

The co-rapporteurs said they intended to visit the country again in the spring.