Monday, June 7, 2010

PACE co-rapporteurs welcome Ukrainian authorities’ pledge to honour remaining Council of Europe commitments

Renate Wohlwend and Mailis Reps, monitoring co-rapporteurs for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), have welcomed the clearly-stated objective of Ukraine’s authorities and ruling coalition to implement remaining commitments to the Council of Europe in the near future. “The request of the President of Ukraine to his government and the Verkhovna Rada to adopt a reform package that would honour the country’s remaining commitments to the Council of Europe is an ambitious project that deserves the support of the Council of Europe and its Assembly,” said the co-rapporteurs at the end of a fact-finding visit to the country.

However, they also noted that several interlocutors from the opposition, but also from the ruling coalition, had indicated that the eagerness of the authorities to implement these reforms with the shortest possible delay had limited the possibility for proper reflection and consultation between all political forces. “The reforms needed to meet the remaining commitments, due to their importance, should necessarily be based on a consensus between the different political forces that is as wide as possible,” stressed the co-rapporteurs. “We therefore urge the relevant authorities to ensure that parliamentary procedures are fully respected, that the Venice Commission is properly consulted before legislation is adopted, and that the elaboration and adoption of any legislative reforms are made in an open and inclusive manner.”

In addition, they underscored that a number of reforms depended on a long-overdue reform of the Constitution, but that the President’s plans did not yet include such a constitutional reform project, which was much needed.

The co-rapporteurs noted with concern the increasing number of allegations that democratic freedoms such as freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the media had come under stress in recent months. “A clear and unwavering respect for democratic freedoms and rights has been one of the main achievements in Ukraine’s democratic development in recent years. Any regress in respecting and protecting these rights would be unacceptable for the Assembly,” the co-rapporteurs said. They therefore noted with satisfaction that the President had stressed there would be zero tolerance for such behaviour, and that all allegations would be fully investigated, and perpetrators punished.

“Ukraine’s European orientation was highlighted over and again by all the interlocutors we spoke to. The road to European integration goes through the Council of Europe and the fulfilment of Ukraine’s commitments to it. We pledge to spare no effort to help the country in doing so,” concluded Ms Wohlwend and Ms Reps.

Source: PACE. Published in Strasbourg on 4 June 2010

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