Address of Commissioner Štefan Füle to the Members of Cabinet (5 min) (07/02/2013)
Dear Prime Minister, Dear Ministers, Colleagues,
I am pleased to attend today’s extraordinary meeting with the Members of the Ukrainian Government and I welcome this very special opportunity to share with the Ukrainian Government and with the Ukrainian public the European Union’s views on the opportunities and challenges ahead of us this year.
When I last visited Ukraine – to attend the 9thYalta Annual Meeting last September – I spoke about my vision of seeing Ukraine deeply rooted amongst European democracies, and about using the magnetism and indeed offer of the European Union to modernise, to transform and to build more democracy in Ukraine.
In Yalta, I made it clear that the way Ukraine dealt with the effects of selective justice, the standards of the October parliamentary elections and the overall progress on reforms would determine Ukraine's future position, and would show to what extent my vision was achievable.
Today, roughly five months later, many of the main concerns remain the same - action needs to be taken to redress the effects of selective justice; the shortcomings of the October parliamentary elections need to be properly addressed; and the overall reform agenda needs to be pursued with more vigour.
But particularly this year we have a common objective which is to sign the Association Agreement/DCFTA and to anchor Ukraine on a European path. In order to achieve this, the European Union has outlined a road map, based on the principles and values of the Association Agreement, whose implementation lies now in your hands. There is an historic opportunity to be seized, and this depends on your actions and commitment to reform.
Five months ago, some suggested that there should be a “pause” in European Union-Ukraine relations. This is not the case today – instead there is a fresh sense of hopefulness in the air that real steps will be taken. There is a renewed determination among everyone who believes in the European integration of Ukraine to tackle the key issues, letting us move ahead on our journey together.
Ukraine has played a key role in shaping and strengthening Eastern Partnership policy. In doing so it has been a positive example not only for the region but also – first of all - for its own people. We need that approach to continue now, more than ever before. And the closer Ukraine comes to the European Union, the higher the expectation will be for delivery on fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, democratic principles and checks and balances.
Our task with the government is to ensure that there is concrete action on these key areas for the benefit of Ukraine and its citizens. We must remember that you, the government, hold primary responsibility for these. And we must also remember that we cannot wait: the window of opportunity is open now. Because if we - Ukraine and the EU - miss the November deadline, there is nothing like “December deadline” or “January 2014 deadline”. Timing matters in politics. And to generate a new political momentum, it will take months if not years if you look at the political calendar in the EU and in Ukraine.
We want this action to be inclusive, involving the opposition and civil society. Let us not forget your important role in creating a climate of inclusivity, putting in place the right conditions for progress. The European Union is committed to taking the significant step forward in our relations that a signing and provisional application of the Association Agreement would mean, and my heartfelt hope is that there are no obstacles on our path towards this goal.
The way ahead is set out and the outstanding issues have been clearly identified. What is needed now is a clear sign of swift and tangible progress and commitment especially in the lead up to the EU-Ukraine Summit on 25 February.