Brussels Urges Kiev to Promptly Carry out Reforms

Written by | Monday, February 17th, 2014

Stefan Fuele, EU Enlargement Commissioner, called on Kiev on Thursday (13 February) to reform promptly its constitution and seek to form of a new government. Mr Fuele arrived in Kiev on Tuesday, 11 February, for negotiations with Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, representatives of civil society, and also opposition leaders trying to mitigate the consequences of the almost three-month long dispute between the government and anti-government demonstrators. He mostly emphasized the need to act fast on constitutional reform and the formation of a new inclusive cabinet.
The anti-government protest movement started in November last year when President Yanukovych decided not to sign an association agreement with the European Union in favour of close ties to Moscow, thus dividing the country between pro-Russian and pro-European currents. As a result, the country has witnessed continuous demonstrations and rioting since then, while effectively turning Kiev’s Independence Square into a sort of a battlefield. Rioting is spreading from the capital to the country’s more remote regions, thus signalling a national division between Moscow and Brussels.
Mr Yanukovych hinted that he was willing to sign off on constitutional reforms including those that would take powers from the President but he did not agree to move forward with presidential elections planned for next year. In the meantime, the EU has assured Ukraine that it stands ready to provide the country with financial aid together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other actors of the international community. Yet, the aid will reach Ukraine only on the condition of implementing – reforms, reforms, and reforms – as Commissioner Fuele put it, although he refused to say what amount of financial assistance Kiev could potentially claim. Last year, Brussels spoke about a package of 60 million euros that should have covered thorough restructuring of the Ukrainian economy according to the IMF’s recipe. Yet, Mr Yanukovych ditched the EU loan and opted for Moscow’s offer of 15-billion-USD bailout including a rebate on natural gas imports.

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