European Parliament members visit Ukraine, insist government cuts corruption
MEP Laima Andrikiene gives speech during visit to Ukraine with Michael Gahler (r) and an interpreter, Kiev, Apr. 6, 2018. Arturo Escarda/EFE
Kiev, Apr 7 (efe-epa).- The government of Ukraine under President Petro Poroshenko was on Saturday left mulling over a European Parliament delegation’s recommendations which pinpointed an urgent need for it to tackle corruption and to make significant headway towards democratization.
A delegation of European lawmakers, led by Laima Andrikiene from Lithuania and also including Michael Gahler and Dariusz Rosati, visited the eastern European country with a view to assessing a plan to provide Ukraine with an additional 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) as part of a European Union macro-financial assistance package.
“Fighting corruption is the way to open doors to foreign investors, to create a reliable business environment, to bring new economic opportunities to Ukraine,” Andrikiene said.
The European Union signed an Association Agreement with Ukraine that has been in force since Sept. and the delegation reinforced its recommendations to tackle corruption.
Andrikiene, of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), led the delegation of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs that earlier in the week had also visited Moldova, which along with Ukraine, was once a Soviet republic.
Gahler, from Germany, agreed that corruption needed to be rooted out, saying it was one of the country’s principal concerns.
“Some continue to live in poverty while there are others that who have become rich due to corruption over many years,” Gahler said to EFE.
While Gahler lauded some reforms undertaken by the government at Kiev but expressed disappointment with the time taken by the parliament to approve certain laws, which he blamed on interests that prefer to delay or block the legislation.
In his opinion, Ukraine lacked authentic reforms in its justice system that would provide for the immediate and stern action against the corrupt.
Andrikiene further stressed that the country's parliament should approve anticorruption legislation, although there was sympathy at having to operate under military aggression from Russia.
“We want to see progress in terms of reforms especially what regards to democratization,” she said, before adding, “We fully acknowledge the fact that these reforms have taken place despite the Russian military aggression that is ongoing.”
She said the conflict could not be forgotten, but added that Ukranian citizens expected progress nonetheless.
Towards the end of 2013, then-president Viktor Yanukovych's decision to suspend the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU led to a people's revolt _ the so-called Euromaidan Revolution or Revolution of Dignity_ that resulted in him losing power and heading to exile in Russia.
Russia responded by fueling an armed uprising in the Russian-speaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine and annexing in 2014 the Crimean Peninsula.
It was Poroshenko who ended up signing the agreement with EU, but his relations with the bloc have witnessed tense moments, such as during the July summit with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Juncker criticized the fight against corruption in the country, classifying it as unsatisfactory and giving some advice which was not well received by the Ukrainian leader.
The MEPs were not received by the Ukrainian president on this visit, but they held meetings with the deputy head of Presidential Administration, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
In the parliament (Verkhovna Rada), they met with First Deputy Chairman Iryna Gerashchenko.
By Arturo Escarda
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