Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
102. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will outline the most recent discussions at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council with regard to the Ukrainian crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28230/14]
The crisis in Ukraine was a major focus of discussions at the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) last week, which I attended. Ministers were briefed on the current situation by the new Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavel Klimkin, who presented his President’s peace plan and called for our support. In our conclusions, we welcomed the plan as a major chance for de-escalation and commended President Poroshenko’s determined actions towards peace and stability in Ukraine since his inauguration. We also called on the Russian Federation to support the peace plan and adopt effective measures to stop the continued flow of illegal fighters, arms and equipment over the border into Ukraine. We encouraged the Ukrainian authorities to continue their reform efforts, including as regards constitutional and decentralisation reforms, the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, the reform of the judiciary, fight against corruption and improving the business climate.
The Council conclusions also reaffirmed the EU’s strong condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.The FAC decided to prohibit the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol with the exception of those with a certificate of origin issued by the Government of Ukraine. The Council called on the European External Action Service and the Commission to continue to monitor the situation, and to present further measures, as necessary. We also urged UN member states to consider similar measures, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 concerning the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Importantly, the Council conclusions also re-affirmed the EU’s support for the work of the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission and agreed to establish a CSDP mission to assist Ukraine in the field of civilian security sector reform, including policing and the rule of law. I welcome these positive developments.
The Council expressed its regret that talks, facilitated by the European Commission, relating to the supply of gas from the Russian Federation to Ukraine have so far been inconclusive and urged both sides to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
On possible further sanctions, the Council recalled that the Commission, European External Action Service and the Member States have been undertaking preparatory work on possible targeted measures so that further steps can be taken should events in Eastern Ukraine so require.
Since the FAC, the Association Agreement with Ukraine was signed on 27 June on the margins of the European Council, representing an important symbol of the EU’s continued commitment and support, and providing further impetus to political and economic reform efforts. President Poroshenko signed on behalf of Ukraine and shared his assessment of the prospects for a lasting settlement with the Taoiseach and other EU leaders.