Though the association agenda with Ukraine is still on, the country must prove its commitment to genuine democracy before an agreement can be signed, say MEPs in the light of the unsatisfactory 2012 elections which were meant to be a key test of Ukraine’s progress.
In a resolution adopted on Thursday Parliament confirms the EU’s commitment to signing the association agreement with Ukraine, possibly in time for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013, but only if the country demonstrates tangible progress towards democratic principles, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and media freedom.
MEPs regret that the 2012 parliamentary elections, which were to be "a key test" for Ukraine’s development into fully‑fledged democracy, failed to meet international standards and were "a step backwards" compared to previous elections. They cite reports of intimidation of candidates and electoral staff, lack of balanced media coverage and irregularities in the vote count.
The House calls on the Ukraine government to address the inconclusive results in some electoral districts and the shortcomings of the electoral law and urges it to find, together with the EP’s envoys Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, a solution to the Tymoshenko case.
Nevertheless, MEPs support the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people and warn against attempts to isolate Ukraine, which could lead to "favourable conditions for undemocratic regimes". The EU remains committed to working with Ukraine, they say, to help it improve democratic institutions and advance essential reforms. They call on Council to further advance the EU-Ukraine dialogue on visa liberalisation.
The resolution also calls on the Ukrainian Parliament to reject Bill 8711, which was adopted recently at first reading and limits freedom of expression and assembly to support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
MEPs voice concerns about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine which led to the election of the "Svoboda" Party to the Parliament of Ukraine. The EP recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and it appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Ukrainian Parliament not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.
Moves for the EU to sign the association agreement negotiated with Ukraine were frozen in 2011 following the arrest of Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. If the EU and its Member States sign the agreement it will need formal consent by Parliament and ratification by the Member States to enter in force.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution