London, 49 Linden Gardens

An audience with the UK's Ambassador to Ukraine, Leigh Turner, took place last Thursday at AUGB's Central Office in Notting Hill, where he was warmly welcomed and introduced by AUGB President, Zenko Lastowiecki.

During his address, the Ambassador explained why the UK wanted to see a vibrant, successful and democratic Ukraine and provided examples of how this could be achieved.

He spoke about the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, describing it as a significant mechanism for transforming Ukraine to ensure that it meets the EU's high standards, with the help of EU technical expertise. After 5 years, the negotiations were finally concluded this year, which was no small achievement. The onus now is very much on Ukraine.  For the Agreement to enter into force, all EU member countries have to sign and ratify it in their own parliaments.  However, member states of the EU have made it clear that they will only sign the agreement if EU standards of democratic development and the rule of law are met by Ukraine.

Ambassador Turner also spoke about the flawed nature of selective trials of opposition figures, which were designed to prove the guilt of those involved.  Such trials did not meet EU standards and there is no doubt that for as long as opposition politicians are imprisoned, it unlikely that the Association Agreement or the DCFTA will be signed.

He was nevertheless optimistic about Ukraine's future and highlighted the high quality skills and enthusiasm he had seen amongst young Ukrainians which would benefit Ukraine's economy and democracy. There are a number of important signposts ahead, e.g. whether opposition leaders will be able to take part in the forthcoming elections.  The European Court of Human Rights is looking at the cases of two imprisoned opposition leaders.  Some solid economic reforms are taking place… The UK will be watching the elections very closely to ensure that they are free and fair.

Leigh Turner will shortly be leaving the Kyiv Embassy to take up a new post as the UK Ambassador to Turkey. He takes with him the Association's thanks for his continual support of fundamental democratic values in bringing Ukraine closer to the EU family, and our warmest best wishes for his future career.

Click here for the full text of Ambassador Leigh Turner's speech.


Ukrayinska Dumka


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