EU Parliament President 'Concerned' Over Democracy in Ukraine PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Parliament Magazine   
Friday, 16 October 2009 13:55
Jerzy Buzek, EP President Parliament's president Jerzy Buzek admits that "concerns" about democracy in Ukraine continue to overshadow its relations with the EU.
The Polish MEP was talking to this website after a meeting in parliament on Thursday with the Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.

Buzek, who described their meeting as "friendly and productive", also said he expects next year's presidential elections in Ukraine to be "both transparent and democratic" and that he believes efforts to forge an EU-Ukraine association agreement will be successful.

This and other related issues will be on the agenda, he said, when the EU and Ukraine, Europe's second biggest country, hold a summit on 4 December.

At a news conference after their meeting, Yushchenko, a former PM, told journalists that the summit represented a "milestone" in relations between his country and the EU.

The meeting, he said, would focus on three main issues - visa policy, trade and Ukraine's EU membership, plus transit of Russian gas to the EU.

"There are currently three priorities for us," he said. "They are development of our democracy, economic reform and developing relations with the EU."

He said, "I am confident there will be a positive outcome in each of these spheres."

Yushchenko, regarded as a pro-Western liberal reformer, said it would be "stupid" were the Ukraine to jeopardise current relations with the EU. It also said it was in Ukraine's interests to join Nato.

At the end of their joint press conference, the two leaders embraced each other and words of goodwill for the upcoming summit.

Ukraine is now seeking closer integration with western Europe but it is a process watched with unease by its eastern neighbour, Russia.

Although trade with EU countries now exceeds that with Moscow, Russia is the largest individual trading partner.

On Wednesday, Gennadiy Chizhykov, the president of the chamber of commerce and industry in Donetsk, the industrial heartland of Ukraine, was in parliament for an event organised by Eurochambres.

He said that despite ongoing concerns about its suitability for EU membership, he believes the country could become an EU member "within five to 10 years".

"We are making fast progress on the road to improved democracy, so why not?" he said.

The Eurochambres conference attracted representatives of chambers of commerce from 45 countries.

The organisation's president Pierre Simon said, "We expect to receive a clear signal from parliament that it means business in the new legislative term."

He urged MEPs to pursue a "business-friendly" agenda and to "implement policies that will allow the business community to lead Europe out of the economic crisis".

The above article appeared on the Parliament Magazine website. Photo © www.ep-president.eu