BRUSSELS — The European Union will sustain its support for the political and economic integration of Ukraine with the EU, while Ukraine will continue its reform process.
So declared EU and Ukrainian leaders after the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit, held in Brussels on July 9, with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk hosting the event for the EU. President Petro Poroshenko led the Ukrainian delegation to the one-day summit.
“Today we reaffirmed our commitment to advancing the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union on the basis of our common values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights,” said Tusk.
“In the last four years, we have done more together than in the last 20. That is a testament to the efforts of the Ukrainian people and President Poroshenko. It also shows that the European Union will keep supporting and standing by you,” Juncker added.
“Some of (Ukraine’s) reforms would be suicide even for most EU governments,” Poroshenko said in return. “I assure our European friends that we have no intention of slowing down on the reforms, and in this context, I express gratitude for all support the EU provides for reform implementation, economic stabilization and the economic growth of Ukraine.”
Tusk underlined that the European Union recognizes the substantial progress Ukraine has made in its reform process.
“In the past year the (Ukrainian) government has taken on a number of reforms, such as pensions and healthcare, that will be difficult in the short-term, but that will make Ukraine stronger in the long-term,” Tusk said.
Poroshenko outlined further steps Ukraine would like to take towards the EU.
“Today we also tried to look at the future of EU-Ukraine relations,” Poroshenko said. “I’m grateful that today we agreed on a vision for further deepening the relations between the EU and Ukraine, based on sectoral integration, fully using the potential of the Association Agreement… Ukraine is committed to stepping up efforts to bring its legislation into line with that of the EU… We have agreed to start practical work on this, and to present the first results by the time of the (EU-Ukraine) Association Council meeting in December this year.”
The EU and Ukrainian leaders also hailed the Ukrainian parliament’s recent approval of a law on the High Anti-Corruption Court, and said they hoped for the swift adoption of the amendments necessary to make it function properly. “Anti-corruption reforms must remain high on the agenda,” Tusk said.
Poroshenko said he hoped that on Thursday “parliament would support an amendment that will make this court even more efficient.”
“We have a practical result in our fight with corruption,” he said.
Tusk reiterated that the EU continues its unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence.
“Our non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol remains firm, and our visa ban list has been expanded following the conduct of the Russian presidential elections on the peninsula and the building of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine’s consent,” he said.
Tusk also underlined that the EU continues to demand the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, underlining Russia’s responsibility for the war in eastern Ukraine.
The leaders also recalled the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.
“We pay tribute to the victims, call on Russia to accept its responsibility, and look forward to the effective prosecution of those responsible for this tragedy,” Tusk said.
Poroshenko added that the Kremlin must accept the deployment of a UN-lead multinational peacekeeping operation across the whole of the Russian-occupied parts of the Donbas, including the uncontrolled part of Ukraine’s border with Russia. He also said Ukraine was prepared to counter Kremlin efforts to meddle in the upcoming elections in Ukraine next year.
“We discussed the upcoming election. No doubt that the Kremlin will again try to meddle, but this time we will be prepared for that. We agreed to coordinate and take joint action to count election meddling threats of any nature,” the Ukrainian president said.
According to Poroshenko, the leaders reconfirmed Ukraine’s role as a strategic gas transit country.
“I highlighted the negative impact of the geopolitically motivated project of Nord Stream-2 on the energy security of Ukraine and the EU, and called on the EU to form a joint approach to stop its construction,” he said.
The sides issued a joint declaration after the summit.