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MEP Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel: “There is growing political discontent in Brussels on the reforms in Ukraine”

viola von cramon

The growing discontent over reforms and the fight against corruption in Ukraine might manifest itself through imposing limitations for some Ukrainian individuals, said Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, German MEP, Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance). Recently, she was among the three signatories of the open letter to David Arahamiya, the head of the “Sluha Narodu” group in the Verkhovna Rada. Together with German MEP Michael Gahler and Lithuanian MEP Rasa Juknevičienė, both from EPP Group, Mrs. Von Cramon-Taubadel explained in the letter the real threats to the Ukraine’s visa-free regime with the EU and to the financial assistance. In an interview with Promote Ukraine, the European deputy explained her motivation to sign the letter.

– Mrs. Von Cramon-Taubadel, are you really disappointed by the path of reforms and the fight against corruption in Ukraine?

Ukraine had a very intensive year and a half since the new government came to power. The first months were characterised by implementing key reforms, among others, also setting up anti-corruption institutions. While these structures are still in place, they are now being exposed to attacks, and clear fatigue is also visible. This is disappointing not only for us, the friends of Ukraine, but foremost for Ukrainian people who, based on the recent polls, perceive the country to be more corrupt now than a year ago.

– Did MEPs try to discuss the lack of progress with Ukrainian deputies, especially from the group “Sluha Narodu”? What was their reaction?

There is constant communication between the members of the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada. This is done through regular inter-parliamentary meetings but also personal channels. We regularly raise the issue of corruption along with other issues during these meetings. Often, our counterparts are those members of “Sluha Narodu” who are more progressive and understand well the significance of fighting corruption on the Euro-integration path. Unfortunately, they are a minority and do not always define the trajectory Ukraine is taking. This is why we, instead of merely communicating with the like-minded lawmakers who have limited influence in their party, wrote a letter to the party leadership.

–  In your letter, you say that as for the visa-free regime “we reserve the right to make a specific rejection of such freedoms to individual oligarchs, including politicians who abuse this right for the sake of their private illegal activities.” Will it be a kind of blacklist?

There is growing political discontent in Brussels on the slowed and partially backsliding reforms in Ukraine. The European Parliament, being politically flexible, is traditionally more outspoken on such problems. The commission usually prefers to express its criticism either behind closed doors or through more coded public language, for example, Mr Borrell’s statement that the “EU is not a cash machine.”  It is likely that the growing discontent, if no positive measures are taken by the Ukrainian officials, will manifest itself through imposing limitations for some individuals. What kind of mechanism it will be and through which procedures will it be triggered are technical and less relevant questions as long as there is a political will to do so.

– Does it look like Ukraine will follow the principle “less for less” instead of “more for more” as provided for in the Eastern Partnership initiative?

Anti-corruption reforms are the centrepiece for the country’s domestic success. Too bad we have backsliding in this direction. On the other hand, we also saw successful reforms, for example, adopting the land law and the banking law. This gives hope that the country will reinvigorate pro-democratic transformation and no “less for less” will be necessary.

Natalia Richardson

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