S&Ds stand by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, but more reforms are necessary, especially in the fight against corruption

Today, the European Parliament assessed the reforms implemented by Ukraine in the frame of its Association Agreement with the EU, the most ambitious agreement the EU has ever had with any country thus far. Socialists and Democrats recognise that Ukraine has passed many important reforms despite very difficult circumstances, namely the occupation of Crimea, Russian aggression in the Eastern part of Ukraine and now in the Sea of Azov. Nevertheless, we encourage Ukraine’s authorities to do more, especially in the fight against corruption and improving living conditions for all citizens.

Tonino Picula MEP, S&D shadow rapporteur on EU-Ukraine Association Agreement said:

“There is no question that despite the difficult security situation, Ukraine is making progress. Nevertheless, the European Parliament’s report rightly recognises many shortcomings that are burdening today’s Ukraine. Combating corruption at all levels, reforms consolidating democracy, de-oligarchisation and fight against extremist far-right forces should be priority. We would also like to see more fruits of domestic reforms reaching ordinary citizens, to improve social and economic conditions for all, including the Roma community. These reforms should not be slowed down or stopped with the excuse of threats to the Eastern part of the country.

“On the day of awarding Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, with the Sakharov Prize for 2018, the S&D Group once more demands his immediate release. Convicted to 20 years in prison in Russia on absurd terrorism charges, Sentsov is a political prisoner, who should never have spent a single day in prison.”

Victor Boştinaru, S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, added:

“Ukraine is a fundamental partner for the EU, and we want its reforms path to be further advanced. However, we know how difficult it is to focus on reforms when you have to defend yourself from all sides. The new and deliberate Russian aggression, this time in the Kerch Strait, is another blunt violation of international law, on which this report couldn’t be silent. We condemn by the strongest means the Russian attempt to put the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait Russian waters under Russian military rule. We also hope that the EU-mediated diplomatic efforts can bring results with the re-establishment of free navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, and with the return home of the Ukrainian war prisoners illegally detained by Russia, and of the seized vessels. Should this not be the case, we see no alternatives to targeted sanctions.”