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‘Ukraine must remain high on our agenda’

Participants at a joint PACE hearing on “The conflict in Eastern Ukraine: political and human rights concerns” agreed that it was important to keep the situation in Ukraine high on the agenda. They stressed that the people of Ukraine deserved Europe’s continued support.

“We cannot close our eyes with regard to the situation in Eastern Ukraine and leave the country alone with its two million IDPs,” warned Marieluise Beck (Germany, ALDE), rapporteur on “Legal remedies for human rights violations on the Ukrainian territories outside the control of the Ukrainian authorities”.

Nils Muiznieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, urged participants not to let people forget about Ukraine. “The rest of Europe cannot ignore the tragedy and hardship in Ukraine. We must all assist in achieving peace with justice.”

Kristýna Zelienková (Czech Republic, ALDE), rapporteur on “political consequences of the crisis in Ukraine”, recalled that - against the deteriorating security background during her joint fact-finding visit with Mrs Beck to Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Mariupol from 4 to 8 April 2016 - it had been impossible for them to cross the contact line and visit the rebel-held areas.

“Our question under these circumstances is: how can anyone speak about free and fair local elections in Donbass any time soon? And what does this mean for the Minsk Agreements? For our Ukrainian partners, the reply is the following: a number of conditions have to be met before local elections can be organised in security and in line with international standards. Full respect for the ceasefire, withdrawal and storage of weapons and an international presence at the border would be minimum conditions, not met at the moment.” She also insisted on the need to obtain the release of Nadia Savchenko through an exchange of prisoners in line with Minsk agreements.

Christos Giakoumopoulos, Special Advisor of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Ukraine, underlined that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine had a grave impact also on the pace of reforms in the government-controlled areas. “Constitutional reforms should be built around the minimum common denominator among political factions”.

The new government is duty-bound to fulfil the Ukrainian people’s legitimate expectation to carry out urgent reforms and defeat corruption, participants at a joint hearing organised by the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee and the Political Affairs and Democracy Committee, concluded.