IN THE SPOTLIGHT
European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ukraine
Yesterday, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted on a resolution on the situation in Ukraine, where it strongly condemned the escalation of violence against peaceful citizens, journalists, students, civil society activists, opposition politicians and clergy. The MPs expressed its sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the violence in Ukraine and called on the Ukrainian authorities to ‘fully respect people’s civil rights and fundamental freedoms and to take immediate steps to end the state of impunity by investigating and punishing the authors of violence against peaceful demonstrators’.
The Resolution also noted that despite international pressure, the Ukrainian authorities continue to pursue a policy of intimidation, repression, torture and violence against protesters, which has resulted in more than 2 000 people being injured, many people being abducted and at least six people killed’ the EP ‘welcomes the democratic spirit and resilience of the Ukrainian people after two months of courageous protests which have met with a brutal response from the authorities, and expresses its full solidarity and support for the people’s efforts for a free, democratic, independent Ukraine and its European perspective.’
It also called Verkhovna Rada’s decision to repeal the anti-protest laws, and its signature by President Yanukovych, as a ‘positive step’ towards the political resolution of the crisis; however regretted ‘that the amnesty law turning victims into hostages was approved on 29 January without the consent of the opposition and taking the view that an unconditional release of protesters would greatly facilitate the talks and appease society’.
The MPS called on Maidan protesters to refrain from the use of force and to maintain the legitimacy of their cause in a peaceful way, appealing to all opposition leaders to continue to refrain from unprovoked violence and to keep the protest peaceful.
The MPs also reminded President Yanukovych of his responsibility before the Ukrainian people and the international community to refrain from using repressive methods, to remedy the current political crisis and to respect the right to peaceful protest;
Following numerous requests by ordinary Ukrainian citizens, activists and politicians that the active involvement of Members of the European Parliament in Kyiv could prevent a further escalation of the crisis the MPs asked for the establishment of a permanent European Parliament mission in Ukraine, with a view to defusing tension and facilitating dialogue between the parties instructing the Conference of Presidents to set up this mission as soon as possible. They also called for the EU institutions and the Member States to take immediate action, including increased diplomatic pressure and the introduction of personalised targeted measures (travel sanctions and asset and property freezes) with regard to all those Ukrainian officials and legislators and their business sponsors (oligarchs) who are responsible for the crackdowns on and deaths of protestors, and to step up efforts to stop money laundering and tax evasion by Ukrainian companies and businesspeople in European banks.
The European Parliament welcomed the ongoing work of the European Union and the United States to create a substantial support package for Ukraine which should be offered to a credible new interim government in order to alleviate the present tight situation in respect of payments and called for the EU, the US, the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD and the EIB to continue to prepare a long-term package of concrete financial support to help Ukraine tackle its worsening financial and social situation and provide economic support to launch the necessary deep and comprehensive reforms of the Ukrainian economy by the government.
The Resolution also called for the EU institutions and the Member States to commit to a broad opening to Ukrainian society, in particular through a swift agreement on a cost-free visa regime and ultimately a visa-free regime, stressing the opinion that the visa fee should immediately be drastically reduced for young Ukrainians, along with strengthened research cooperation, expanded youth exchanges and increased availability of scholarships.’