Ukraine has to do a lot to reap the Association Agreement and the comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union full benefits. The article “Oligarchs, Corruption, and COVID-19: What I Talked to President Zelensky” by Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, published on the European Parliament website, stated this.

“As I told the president, the EU is neither a charity foundation nor an ATM. The best way to support Ukraine for us is to help to reform the country. But only Ukrainians can implement these reforms on their own. The best way to stabilise our neighbourhood is a stable, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine,” Borrell wrote.

He stated that since the Association Agreement signing in 2014, Ukraine has received about 14 billion euros from the EU, which is an unprecedented level of support. Since 2007, the European Investment Bank has financed 43 projects in Ukraine for € 6.5 bn in total. The EU also helps Ukraine to fight the coronavirus by allocating more than € 190 mln.

At the same time, according to Borrell, not all the difficulties in Ukraine are now connected with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The election of Volodymyr Zelensky as Ukraine’s president in April 2019 was a strong sign of Ukrainian’s readiness to fight corruption and weaken the oligarchs’ power in the country. His first months in office were characterised by a ‘turbo regime’ when parliament quickly passed reforms that postponed for a long time. However, many observers believe the reforms have slowed recently. In particular, the implementation of obligations under the Association Agreement. The government change in early March and the reformers dismissal became the alarming signals of readiness to confront corrupt interests, ” the article states.

According to the diplomat, he insisted on the need to ensure a transparent and depoliticised selection process for anti-corruption institutions.

Borrell also noted that the oligarchs still have a significant influence in Ukraine. They own most of the national TV channels. Meanwhile, the freedom of information and independent media is the oxygen of democracy. Besides, European partners are concerned that Ukrainian law enforcement does not conduct a thorough investigation into attacks on civil society activists, and that the criminal proceedings in the Privatbank fraud case for over $ 5 billion have not been opened yet.

Bohdan Marusyak

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