Statement by David McAllister, Head of the EP delegation Early parliamentary elections, Ukraine, 21 July 2019
Kyiv, 22 July 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my turn to welcome you all today and thank you for your interest in our observation and our findings on these elections.
First and foremost it is the Ukrainian people that come to my mind today: the citizens went to the polling stations and exercised their democratic right to choose their representatives. They did this with enthusiasm and profound conviction that they can have a say on the future of their country.
This is even more remarkable as, just a few hundred kilometres to the east from here, Ukrainian soldiers die defending their country against Russian aggression and in support of the values of freedom, which are so dear to all of us. Millions of citizens continue to be trapped and suffer due to direct and indirect involvement of Russia in this armed conflict. Last but not least millions of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons scattered around Ukraine need assistance. When assessing these elections, the international community shall never underestimate the complicated and volatile security context or lose sight of the efforts and sacrifices imposed on Ukraine by this hybrid war which is still a very real and present danger.
Despite this dire context, and notwithstanding the fact that these elections are taking place a few months earlier than planned, one can undoubtedly say that they were competitive, well administered and managed in an efficient way. The Central Election Commission has notably done its best to correct several shortcomings identified during the presidential elections earlier this year, such as the registration process for IDPs or mobile workers. The rising public confidence in this institution is a well-deserved testimony of these efforts.
Among the main issues of the campaign, the fight against corruption was clearly a prominent and overarching one. Undeniably, the results or the last five years have fallen short of expectations for citizens and the international community. However, at the same time the efforts undertaken exceeded everything that was done in this regard since independence. The newly elected members of the Verkhovna Rada, together with the President of Ukraine, now have to build on the achievements of the last five years, step up the efforts in order to finally deliver on the expectations of the citizens. Stalling and prevarications will not be accepted.
Since the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine – a strategic partner of the European Union – has always been the highest priority for the European Parliament: five years ago, people fought and died for the right to choose the future of their country, a European future. Since then, we have been on the side of the Ukrainian people and its representatives. We have been assisting in the implementation of projects carried out by the EU and Ukraine, namely the Association Agreement, which is the most ambitious agreement of its kind the EU has ever signed with a third country. At its core are the values and principles that have made the EU such a successful project over the past several decades and can help Ukraine become more resilient when facing external threats.
The European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada have developed over the past years genuine mutual trust. We have reached an unprecedented level of cooperation and streamlining of structuring internal work of parliament, including organising policy issues and approximation of legislations. Several democracy support activities have been developed for the Verkhovna Rada, for example capacity-building activities for members and for officials, or mediation and dialogue activities among factions‘ leaders. We hope that the new leadership will ensure that a spirit of dialogue and compromise amongst all factions is embedded in the work of the Verkhovna Rada, as a mean for building the national consensus essential for the reform agenda.
The European Parliament is keen to push its cooperation even further, and provide the Verkhovna Rada with all expertise and assistance in the follow up to this election observation mission. Actually, as a legislator, the Verkhovna Rada will play an instrumental and pivotal role in the implementation of most of the recommendations our mission will present, and the European Parliament will be at its side in this endeavour, for the benefit of the Ukrainian people.
Thank you !