EU grants Ukraine visa-free travel
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared unconstitutional the article of the Criminal Code on punishment for inaccurate declaration
The European Union is concerned about the latest decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on the activities of anti-corruption bodies. It can become the basis for the temporary suspension of visa-free relations.
This is stated in a letter from the Ambassador of Ukraine to the EU Mykola Tochitsky to the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olga Stefanishina, reports on October 29 “European Truth”.
“As our contacts unofficially note so far, the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine No. 13-r / 2020, which abolished the key anti-corruption powers of the NAPC, criminal liability for inaccurate declaration, is a sufficient reason for the European Commission to start a mechanism for temporarily suspending the visa-free regime,” in the letter, the text of which is at the disposal of “European Truth”.
A statement on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishina on the website of the Government Portal on October 29 emphasizes that “the circumstances in which the recent decisions of the Constitutional Court were taken raise questions and outrage.”.
“Visa-free with the EU! There are forces inside the country that are interested in stopping the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, and at the same time depriving Ukrainians of visa-free travel. I assure them they will not succeed! ” – emphasizes Stefanishina.
As reported on the website of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy convened an urgent closed meeting of the National Security and Defense Council to determine measures for an urgent appropriate response of the state to new threats and challenges to national security and the country’s defense..
“We are compelled to state that recently there have been signs that certain entities are trying to revise the key parts of the social contract in Ukraine, which provide for zero tolerance for corruption and any form of non-transparency in public administration. This is unacceptable, “says a statement posted on October 29 on the website of the President of Ukraine..
The participants of the closed meeting noted that “the necessary bills, which will further prevent the occurrence of such crisis situations, will be developed and submitted by the head of state to the Verkhovna Rada as urgent”.
Ambassadors of the G7 countries commented on the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, calling them “efforts to reverse anti-corruption reforms”.
The corresponding joint statement of the representation of the G7 countries in Ukraine was published on Twitter on October 29.
Discussion around the abolition of visa-free travel
The reason for discussions about visa-free travel with the European Union was the decision on the unconstitutional nature of the article in the Criminal Code, which provides for punishment for inaccurate declaration. This decision, as reported by “Ukrinform”, referring to its sources, was considered by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on October 27.
“At the same time, the interlocutor of the agency noted that the court recognized the obligation to declare property as constitutional,” the website of the National Information Agency “Ukrinform” says..
The agency recalls that in August 2020, 47 people’s deputies submitted a submission to the Constitutional Court regarding the constitutionality of the provisions of the laws that make up the so-called anti-corruption platform..
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba notes on his Facebook page that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine creates a problem for the fight against corruption, relations with Ukraine’s partners who helped implement anti-corruption reform, for the development of Ukraine as a European state “.
Legislative process for solving the problem
Oleksandr Leonov, Executive Director of the Penta Center for Applied Political Research, believes that a direct statement from the European Union about the threat of losing a visa-free visa is already a rather unpleasant moment for Ukraine’s European integration policy..
“Even then, during the last Ukraine-EU summit, issues like this were raised. At the same time, it was said that there are threats to visa-free travel, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave guarantees and assurances that Ukraine would not turn off the European integration path, “Alexander Leonov told the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America..
The political scientist believes that it is impossible to get out of this situation quickly and that for this it is necessary to go through a certain legislative path.
“The president will have to quickly submit to the Verkhovna Rada a bill that will eliminate the existing problem, the parliament needs to quickly get together and consider the initiative of the state leader, after which Volodymyr Zelenskyy will sign a new law,” says Alexander Leonov.
According to him, the decision of the Constitutional Court, removing responsibility for inaccurate declaration, could be dictated by the interests of some judges..
“Experts and the press note that the head of the Constitutional Court is also not without sin and it is obvious that this is one of the moments that allows us to talk about the non-legal status of the decision,” emphasizes Alexander Leonov.
On the needs of society
Director of the Institute of World Politics Yevgeny Magda states that the discussed decision of the Constitutional Court “as of today” actually opened up opportunities for corrupt officials to hide illegal savings.
“We have a public request for the fight against corruption, which is not really being implemented, and we have our international obligations. Intolerance to corruption is part of the ideology of the collective West, and we must clearly understand this. Visa-free is an element of rapprochement between Ukraine and the European Union, part of the Association Agreement. And the creation of independent anti-corruption bodies in this matter is an element of our international obligations. We cannot refuse obligations and think that nothing will happen to us, ”emphasizes Yevgeny Magda.
The mood in society, criticism of the decision of the Constitutional Court, he said, resemble the fall of 2013, when Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union..
“But Ukraine is such a large country that it will not be able to be just a“ gray zone ”. Yanukovych has already tried to do this, and he failed, and everything ended in Rostov. And Mr. Zelensky should understand this well, given that we already have a war with Russia, significant casualties, a negative economic situation, and we are definitely strongly interested in rapprochement with the EU, “the expert notes..
The political scientist draws attention to the fact that the initiators of the consideration in the Constitutional Court of the article on the unconstitutionality of criminal liability for false information in declarations are political forces known for their pro-Russian position..
“And this decision was made when visa-free travel does not work en masse for epidemiological reasons. When the coronavirus pandemic is over, we must be confident that we will be able to enjoy the benefits of visa-free travel, ”emphasizes Yevgeny Magda.