High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell said this in his interview with Ukrainian media ahead of his first visit to Ukraine that took place on September 22.
He also stressed that the European Union is a reliable partner of Ukraine. “The European Union recognizes European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice. The Agreement for Association obliges us to economic integration and political rapprochement”, said the diplomat.
According to Mr. Borell, the European Union has rendered an unprecedented support to Ukraine. “Since 2014 the European Union and European financial institutions have provided more than 15 billion euroes to promote reforms in Ukraine”, he said.
He also noted Ukraine’s great progress in reforms since 2014 and welcomed the reforms-oriented initiatives of the current government.
The European High Representative emphasized that the European Union member-countries support the sovereignty, integrity and territorial inviolability of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders including Crimea.
During his first official visit, the head of European diplomacy had talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Andriy Taran. Mr. Borell also met with representatives of civil society and parliament, at which he noted the importance of independent anti-corruption institutions and judicial reform in Ukraine.
“Glad to meet president Zelenskyy. The EU stands by Ukraine, its sovereignty and its people. We are the strongest and most reliable partner of Ukraine, in support of an effective reform process for the benefit of all Ukrainians”, Josep Borell wrote in Twitter after his meeting with the Ukrainian President.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured Josep Borell that his team is most interested in implementing judicial reform, building an independent anti-corruption structure and law enforcement system for the democratic development of Ukraine. Political analysts say that the President emphasized this topic because the European High Representative during his meeting with civil activists had heard a lot of criticism that the current Ukrainian government proves to be insufficient in fighting against corruption.
Zelenskyy assured that Ukraine would not depart from its position on restoring its control over the occupied territories including the annexed Crimea.
Following negotiations with the delegation of the European Union, the President of Ukraine informed that his proposal on the creation of a negotiation platform to liberate Crimea would be discussed at the 22nd “Ukraine-European Union” summit meeting which is scheduled to be held on October 1, in Brussels.
“I thank Josep Borell for the European Union’s constant support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. I’d be happy to discuss the creation of a negotiation platform for de-occupation of Crimea at the 22nd “Ukraine-European Union” summit”, Zelenskyy wrote in Twitter.
According to information provided by the Office of the President, Zelenskyy noted that the key issue for him is “the presence of the constantly working playground, where we can raise, first of all, humanitarian issues, issues of human rights, issues of Ukrainians on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea, and the issue of return of our occupied territory in general".
The European High Representative mentioned that the European Union would never recognize the annexation of Crimea and would never step back from this position. (On September 10, the European Union extended sanctions against Russia for six months for the violating of the territorial integrity of Ukraine – Ed.) Josep Borell said about his intention to visit Ukraine once more with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. They plan to visit Donbas.
Zelenskyy and Borell discussed preparations for the upcoming 22nd summit in Brussels. The Ukrainian President was hopeful that the forthcoming joint statement that is expected to be adopted by the summit would reflect the level of ambitions of the parties to seek the further deepening of strategic partnership and economic integration between Ukraine and the European Union.
After talks with Foreign Minister Kuleba, the high-ranking European diplomat noted, “On territorial integrity, I will be short, because everything can be said in a few words. We support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We do not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea. President Zelenskyy has taken important steps to ensure more space for a dialogue and diplomacy. And we call on Russia to reciprocate these efforts”.
In answering the question about a possible suspension of the visa-free regime for Ukrainians to visit European Union countries, the head of European diplomacy said that at the present moment there is no threat to the visa-free regime as Kyiv complies with all necessary conditions. In his words, the regular report of the European Union dated July 20 confirmed this fact. However, Borell said diplomatically that a year from now the situation may be different. “Everything will depend on the effective and independent work of the anti-corruption bodies in the future and refrain from involving the law enforcement of Ukraine into political activities”.
In the words of Josep Borell, the European Union plans to give Ukraine a 1.2 billion euroes worth of approved credit but only after Kyiv will fulfil conditions of cooperation with the International Monetary Fund. He also reminded that this year the European Union had already provided almost 200 million euroes of financial assistance to help Ukraine fight coronavirus.
On the day of Mr. Borell’s visit to Ukraine, news came from Brussels that some adjustments would be made in the already published dates of holding the “Ukraine-European Union” summit and an expected visit to Donbas by the two high-ranking representatives of the European Union. Thus, it has been officially informed that the President of the European Council Charles Michel went to quarantine and therefore the summit meeting had to be postponed from late September to October 1 to 2. Because the President of the European Council has been in “close contact” with a security officer who has tested positive for coronavirus, Mr. Michel has to comply with demands of medical authorities of Belgium and go to quarantine.
The newspaper Holos Ukrainy