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Thursday, 12 December 2013 - Strasbourg Final edition
Outcome of the Vilnius Summit and the future of the Eastern Partnership, in particular as regards Ukraine

European Parliament resolution of 12 December 2013 on the outcome of the Vilnius Summit and the future of the Eastern Partnership, in particular as regards Ukraine (2013/2983(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on ‘the European Neighbourhood Policy: towards a strengthening of the partnership. Position of the European Parliament on the 2012 reports’(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the pressure exerted by Russia on Eastern Partnership countries (in the context of the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius)(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2005 on the results of the Ukraine elections(3),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit of 29 November 2013,

–  having regard to the Joint Declarations of the Warsaw Eastern Partnership Summit of 30 September 2011 and of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit of 7 May 2009,

–  having regard to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, which developed after the decision by the Ukrainian authorities not to sign the Association Agreement at the Vilnius Summit of 28 and 29 November 2013, resulting in the outbreak of massive popular demonstrations in support of Ukraine’s European choice at the Euromaidan in Kyiv and in cities all over Ukraine,

–  having regard to the joint statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, condemning the excessive use of force by the police in Kyiv to disperse demonstrators on 30 November 2013,

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas, at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, Ukraine and all the other participants reconfirmed their commitment to the principles of international law and to fundamental values, such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights;

B.  whereas, in particular, Armenia’s decision to withdraw from the Association Agreement negotiations and Ukraine’s last-minute decision to suspend the preparations for the signing of its Association Agreement frustrated the efforts made, and undermined the work undertaken, over the last few years with the aim of deepening bilateral relations and enhancing European integration;

C.  whereas the Ukrainian Government’s decision to suspend the process of preparation for the signing of the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), has aroused discontent and massive protest within the country; whereas, in this context, the Ukrainian security forces made brutal and unacceptable use of force against peaceful demonstrators, opposition parties and the media;

D.  whereas Georgia and Moldova initialled Association Agreements with the EU, including provisions establishing DCFTAs, at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 29 November 2013;

E.  whereas the only solution must be a peaceful one negotiated with all parties;

1.  Welcomes the initialling of Association Agreements, including DCFTAs, with Georgia and Moldova, which sets a clear European agenda for these two countries; looks forward to the signing and implementation of these agreements as soon as possible; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to facilitate the implementation of these agreements and to assist the two countries’ respective authorities so that some tangible positive effects and benefits covered by the agreements can be delivered to their citizens in the short term;

2.  Deplores the decision by the Ukrainian authorities, under the lead of President Yanukovych, to withdraw from signing the Association Agreement with the EU during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, despite the clear will on the EU side to continue with the association process, provided the conditions are met; considers this decision to be a major missed opportunity in EU-Ukraine relations and for Ukraine’s aspirations; acknowledges Ukraine’s European aspirations, as expressed in the ongoing demonstrations by Ukrainian civil society in the Euromaidan in Kyiv and in other cities all over Ukraine, which did not hesitate to take its disapproval of President Yanukovych’s decision out onto the streets, and reiterates its view that a deepening of relations between the EU and Ukraine and the fact of offering Ukraine a European perspective are of great significance and in the interests of both parties;

3.  Deplores the violent events of the night of 9 to 10 December 2013, when the security forces stormed the offices of opposition parties and independent media outlets, and harassed protesters, along with those of the night of 10 to 11 December 2013, when security forces attacked peaceful protesters, attempting to remove them from the Euromaidan and surrounding streets and to tear down the barricades; points out that these events took place even during the visit by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and ongoing efforts to facilitate roundtable talks; fears that they may lead to further escalation of an already tense situation;

4.  Recalls that several channels of communication, including the European Parliament Monitoring Mission led by Presidents Cox and Kwaśniewski, are open between the EU and Ukraine, and therefore reiterates that the concerns raised by the Ukrainian authorities to justify this last-minute decision to suspend should have been voiced earlier so as to allow them to be addressed;

5.  Reaffirms its strong support for the signing of the Association Agreement as soon as possible, provided that the relevant requirements are met, as defined by the Foreign Affairs Council of 10 December 2012 and supported by Parliament’s resolution of 13 December 2012; calls, therefore, on the European Council, at its December 2013 meeting, to send a strong political signal that the EU remains ready to engage with Ukraine;

6.  Calls for the immediate launch of a new, fully fledged EU mediation mission at the highest political level, to achieve, and assist in, roundtable talks between the government and the democratic opposition and civil society and to secure a peaceful outcome to the current crisis;

7.  Expresses its full solidarity with those demonstrating for a European future; calls on the Ukrainian authorities to fully respect people’s civil rights and the fundamental freedom of assembly and peaceful protest; strongly condemns the use of brutal force against peaceful demonstrations, and stresses the need for prompt, effective and independent investigation, and for prosecution of those found guilty; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the peaceful protesters arrested in the last few days; underlines Ukraine’s international obligations in this regard; stresses that such measures clearly stand against the fundamental principles of freedom of assembly and expression, and are therefore in breach of universal and European values; recalls that, in view of Ukraine’s position as the incumbent Chair‑in‑Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, its record on the defence and promotion of these values is being scrutinised even more closely;

8.  Reiterates its firm condemnation of the unacceptable political and economic pressure, coupled with threats of trade sanctions, being exerted by Russia on Ukraine; urges the EU and its Member States to speak to Russia with one voice, and calls for the EU, together with its Member States, to develop and implement a policy of adequate response to these tools and measures used by Russia against Eastern partners, especially with a view to helping Ukraine acquire energy security, in the light of the ongoing crisis regarding the importing of natural gas from Russia; reiterates that the Association Agreement is a matter of strictly bilateral concern between the two parties, and very firmly rejects any proposal to associate a third party in the process;

9.  Calls on the Commission to consider possible counter-measures which the EU can evoke when Russia breaks World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade rules for short-sighted political ends; underlines the fact that the Union’s political credibility demands that it should be able to react when it or its partner countries come under political and economic pressure;

10.  Urges the Ukrainian authorities to engage in talks with the protesters in order to avoid an escalation of violence and destabilisation of the country, and urges all political parties to ensure that an orderly, calm and reflective parliamentary debate can be conducted on the economic and political situation and the prospects for future integration with the EU; recalls that in any democracy new elections can be called when renewed popular legitimacy is needed;

11.  Calls for the EU institutions and the Member States to commit to a broad opening towards Ukrainian society, in particular through a swift agreement on a visa-free regime, strengthened research cooperation, expanded youth exchanges and increased availability of scholarships; considers that further efforts should be made to include Ukraine fully in the EU’s internal energy market;

12.  Underlines the need for the EU to support the involvement of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with a view to providing financial assistance to help Ukraine tackle its worsening financial situation;

13.  Recalls that the signing of the Association Agreement is not an end in itself, but is, rather, a means to achieve long-term stability and socio-economic progress, as well as sustainable and systemic transformation, and that it therefore requires a genuine commitment to its proper and prompt implementation; calls for the EU to negotiate a concrete roadmap for implementation with the Ukrainian authorities;

14.  Regrets the fact that after more than three years of successfully completed negotiations on an Association Agreement, including a DCFTA, the Armenian authorities decided instead to join the Customs Union, following Russian pressure; reminds the Armenian authorities that the protests and demonstrations against this decision are an expression of the free will of the country’s citizens and that they need to be respected under the international commitments into which Armenia has entered; recalls, in this connection, that persecution and detentions are violations of the rights of assembly and expression and that repressive measures run counter to recent rhetoric of commitment to shared values with the EU; calls on the Government of Armenia to engage in an inclusive dialogue with civil society on the country’s future direction;

15.  Welcomes the signing of the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan; is concerned at the crackdown on dissent that has taken place in the country following the presidential elections of October 2013, as manifested in continuing detention and fresh arrests of opposition activists, harassment of independent NGOs and media, and dismissals of the government’s critics from their jobs solely on the basis of their political activities; urges the Azerbaijani parliament to reconsider its decision to suspend its participation in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, following the adoption of Parliament’s resolution of 23 October 2013;

16.  Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 in order to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport; considers that this important measure will facilitate people-to-people contacts and bring Moldovan citizens closer to the EU;

17.  Welcomes the signing of a framework agreement with Georgia on participation in EU crisis management operations, providing a permanent legal basis for the involvement of Georgia in ongoing and future EU crisis management efforts around the world;

18.  Believes that the outcome and overall context of the Vilnius Summit highlight the need for the EU to articulate a more strategic and flexible policy in support of the European choice of its Eastern partners, using the full range of tools at its disposal, such as macroeconomic assistance, easing of trade regimes, projects to enhance energy security and economic modernisation, and swift implementation of visa liberalisation, in line with European values and interests;

19.  Supports the further involvement of civil society in national reform processes; encourages enhanced interparliamentary cooperation with the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly; calls for a European Parliament mission to be sent to Ukraine as soon as possible; welcomes the involvement of the Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of the Eastern Partnership;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States, the President of Ukraine, the governments and parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries and of the Russian Federation, the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0446.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0383.
(3) OJ C 247 E, 6.10.2005, p. 155.

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