Ukraine’s Rejection of EU Agreement Betrays Democratic Aspirations | Freedom House

Ukraine’s Rejection of EU Agreement Betrays Democratic Aspirations

Washington

The Ukrainian government’s rejection of closer integration with the European Union (EU) is a significant step back from democracy and human rights in Ukraine and a betrayal of the public’s hopes.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided against signing agreements with the EU that would bring Ukraine closer to EU standards in economic and political affairs, deciding instead to seek closer links with the Russia-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He also proposed creating an EU-Russia-Ukraine commission to discuss economic cooperation.

"The proposed commission is unworkable and reflects a failure on President Yanukovych's part to advance his country's best interests," said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House.

Ukraine’s new agreement with the EU depended on Ukraine carrying out several reforms, including the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, the imprisoned former prime minister whose prosecution is widely seen as politically motivated. The EU also sought reforms in combating corruption, the conduct of elections, legal and constitutional practices, economic development and privacy protections.

"Yanukovych has decided it's more important to keep Tymoshenko in prison than to integrate Ukraine closer toward Europe,” Kramer said. “He has left his country vulnerable to Vladimir Putin's threats and pressure. That will be Yanukovych’s legacy if he doesn’t reverse course.”

As Ukraine and other former Soviet republics have negotiated Association Agreements with the EU, they have encountered increasing pressure from Russia, including threats of trade wars and retaliation against their citizens who live in Russia. Closer relations with the CIS will likely emphasize economic issues at the cost of efforts to improve respect for human rights.

Ukraine is rated Partly Free in Freedom of the World 2013, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2013.

To learn more about Ukraine, visit:
Video: David J. Kramer’s Address to Participants of the Eastern Partnership Conference
Press Release: Human Rights Must Guide Eastern Partnership Agenda
Nations in Transit 2013: Ukraine
Freedom in the World 2013: Ukraine
Freedom of the Press 2013: Ukraine
Freedom on the Net 2013: Ukraine
Sounding the Alarm Round 2: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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