UWC President Addresses XVI Meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee
March 30, 2011
UWC PRESIDENT ADDRESSES XVI MEETING OF THE EU-UKRAINE PARLIAMENTARY COOPERATION COMMITTEE
On March 15-16, 2011, the President of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) Eugene Czolij took part in the XVI Meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (PCC) held in Brussels, Belgium, on the invitation of European Parliament Delegation Chair Pawel Kowal.
Members and representatives of the European Parliament and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine discussed a range of issues related, in particular, to Ukraine’s European integration, the state of Ukraine’s internal political affairs, free trade zone negotiations between Ukraine and the EU and neighborly relations between Ukraine and Russia.
On the first day of the PCC’s agenda, Pawel Kowal welcomed the UWC President and invited him to speak. In his remarks Eugene Czolij stated that:
Over the last year, the following events have occurred in Ukraine:
– Ukraine’s election law has been amended making it more difficult for individuals not aligned to political parties to stand as candidates for local elections.
– It is widely recognized that Ukraine’s opposition politicians have been targeted and are being persecuted by Ukraine’s current leadership – this persecution has been widely reported and condemned internationally but persists nevertheless.
– It has been widely reported that Ukraine’s independent media outlets and universities have been targeted by Ukrainian state authorities.
Ukraine is unequivocally a European country; however, Ukraine’s current leadership is aligning itself firmly with Russia on many strategic issues to the detriment of EU integration.
Europe and its institutions must recognize that Ukraine’s European course has stalled and this is in no one’s interest. Continued engagement with Ukraine should be encouraged both on an official political level and, more importantly, on a grassroots level. Europe needs to engage the people of Ukraine. They are Europeans who share Europe’s ideals and aspire to its way of life.
So, will Ukraine develop into a country that will be welcomed into Europe’s community and institutions as a fully-ranking member, or will Ukraine continue to drift between the poles of Europe and Russia?
A Ukraine firmly entrenched on a European course is critical to Europe’s collective interests, especially to maintain regional peace and stability. Continued outreach to the people of Ukraine is important to counter the pro-Russian media monopoly held by forces intent on pulling Ukraine towards Russia. More policies need to be adopted that make a difference to the lives of people in Ukraine. Also, Europe needs to do a better job of delivering the message of its pro-Ukrainian policies. This message is not coming across effectively enough in Ukraine. Ukraine can continue its European course; however, it will take the popular support of Ukraine’s electorate to push its current political leadership to adopt the policies required to achieve this.
The Ukrainian World Congress supports the positive work of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and encourages its members to continue their efforts to help Ukraine hold and achieve its European course.
The Final Statement and Recommendations adopted after the two-day meeting stated that the European Union “has acknowledged and welcomed European aspirations of Ukraine”. Moreover, it was noted “that further deepening of the relationship between Ukraine and the EU will be determined by the implementation of reforms and further focus on common values” and that “Ukraine may apply for membership of the EU like any European state that adheres to the principles of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”
The UWC President’s letter to the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek concerning criminal charges being laid against opposition politicians in Ukraine was included in PCC’s documents.
The UWC President separately discussed Ukraine’s European integration and state of its democracy with the Vice‑chairs of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee Siiri Oviir (Estonia) and Vilija Blinkeviciute (Lithuania), Committee Member Jan Kozlowski (Poland) and Member of European Parliament Astrid Lulling (Luxemburg).
The UWC President also discussed current affairs in Ukraine with the Chair of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Delegation to the EU-Ukraine PCC Borys Tarasyuk.
“Participation in the recent meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee provided the Ukrainian World Congress with the opportunity to present its position concerning Ukraine’s European integration. I hope this committee’s activities will accelerate the process of Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union,” said UWC President Eugene Czolij.