Extension of European Parliament's Ukraine Mission: A Triumph Of Dialogue Over Isolation

STRASBOURG, France -- The European Parliament has acknowledged the success of the Cox-Kwasniewski monitoring mission to Ukraine, extending its remit until September.

European Parliament

There had been speculation that the mission, headed by former European Parliament (EP) President Pat Cox and former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, could end April 18th in Strasbourg, but in the past few weeks there was positive news from Kiev with the decision by Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych to pardon jailed former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and five others.

Lutsenko, an ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, had been convicted of crimes ranging from embezzlement to abuse of office.

Tymoshenko was not considered for a pardon, as she has not yet exhausted all her appeals and legal steps, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The mission's extension was supported by all political parties in the European Parliament, showing the success of engagement and dialogue rather than isolation tactics.

Polish MEP Pawel Kowal, head of the Parliamentary Delegation on Cooperation with Ukraine, underlined the importance of an active dialogue as a tool for deeper European integration of Ukraine.

"The principle of the mission's work is based on a dialogue and it works better than boycott threats and other political tools," he said.

Kwasniewski said the extension is an acknowledgement that his mission is a work in progress.

"We see that many steps forward have already been made. But still a lot needs to be done. And we, through our mission in Ukraine, are supporting the process of meeting the association criteria," he said, referring to the terms of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which is set to be signed in November.

The European Parliament also approved visa-free travel for Ukraine, a key measure included in the Association Agreement.

Kwasniewski said Kiev has played an important part in getting his mission extended.

He praised the efforts to unblock the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), which had held up legislation vital to Ukraine's European integration.

And he said the softening of the hard-line position by Opposition parties, including Tymoshenko's Fatherland, to support bills vital to EU integration "opens the way" for further progress.

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