European Council, The President
Kyiv, 19 December 2011, EUCO 166/11, PRESSE 511, PR PCE 125
Let me start my reiterating that Ukraine is a partner of strategic importance for the EU. Our commitment to developing the relationship between the EU and Ukraine is firm. Since the last summit there has been developments in the EU-Ukraine relations—both positive and some that have given us reason for strong concern.
Today, we can publically announce that negotiations on the Association Agreement have been finalised. It was difficult work, but your government’s declared European choice and dedication has made it possible to conclude the talks with success. This is a giant step for our relations.
What is encouraging is the broad support this Agreement—and Ukraine’s European choice—enjoys in Ukrainian society.
We want to take steps to sign and ratify the Association Agreement as soon as we can, but this will depend on political circumstances. In this regard, a number of recent domestic developments in Ukraine have led to a difficult atmosphere between the European Union and Ukraine.
The support of European public opinion to Ukraine’s political association and economic integration to the EU is an important asset, closely related to this field. The perceived deterioration of the quality of democracy and rule of law in Ukraine has a direct impact in our Member-States, in our public at large, and in the European Parliament.
Our strong concern is primarily related to the risks of politically-motivated justice in Ukraine. The Timoshenko trial is the most striking example. But just as important, a comprehensive justice reform in line with international standards is absolutely key. Media freedom and freedom of assembly are also key for a full fledged democracy. Shortcomings have to be corrected.
Mr President, the respect for these principles, enshrined in the Eastern Partnership and at the core of the Association Agreement, is decisive for the pace and depth of rapprochement with the EU and of the signing and ratification of the Association Agreement. But it is also fundamental to Ukraine’s future development as a competitive, dynamic and innovative society.
In this context, the parliamentary elections to be held next year, will be a litmus test. The conduct of these elections will have to meet the commitments of the OSCE, including the ensuring of a level playing field for all possible candidates. And it is of outmost importance that they can exercise their political rights.
We do, however, take note of the cross-party adoption by the Ukrainian Parliament of a new Law on Election of the People’s Deputies. We encourage you to continue close cooperation with the Venice Commission.
In summary, we share not only the common interest but also the common ambition of a closer EU-Ukraine relationship. This summit is proof of our commitment. We will work toward the realisation of this ambition. But this will require a major effort from Ukraine. […]