16:38 17.01.2014

Fule 'shocked, disappointed' at Ukraine's turn from European path

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule has said he is shocked at Ukraine's turn from the European path and warned that it will have consequences for partnership between Kyiv and Brussels.

The commissioner said in exclusive comments to Interfax-Ukraine on Friday by phone from Sarajevo: "I'm shocked. It is deeply disappointing to see such a turn from the European path of Ukraine. It is worrying to see this happening with such an important EU partner. The decisions adopted by the Verkhovna Rada represent disrespect for basic democratic principles and they not only raise concerns about the state of democracy and the future of Ukraine, but will also have consequences for the partnership between the EU and Ukraine."

Fule said that one of the laws adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday was aimed at limiting partnership with the civil society.

"We have made it clear to the Ukrainian authorities that the cooperation which we build is not cooperation between us and the Ukrainian government but cooperation between the citizens of the EU and Ukraine," he said, explaining the threat to the bilateral partnership in this aspect of the adopted legislation.

Fule said he was sure that Kyiv and Brussels built this relationship and initialed the Association Agreement "for the benefit of the Ukrainian people."

"And we firmly stand behind this offer. It is sad to see how the authorities turn down a chance for the Ukrainian people in such a way. I am particularly worried about the impact on the citizens of Ukraine who risk with this legislation to have their basic freedoms curtailed," he said.

On January 16, the Verkhovna Rada adopted Ukraine's state budget for 2014 and a number of laws without discussion. Most of the documents were passed without discussion, by a show of hands. The texts of certain laws became available only after MPs voted for them.

The Party of Regions faction noted that the opposition prevented normal voting, in particular, members of opposition factions took away voting cards from their colleagues in parliament. The opposition said that the laws had been adopted in violation of the parliament's rules of procedure and described their essence as "a coup."

The laws passed by parliament include the so-called Oliynyk-Kolesnichenko law, which, in particular, determines the procedure for the registration and functioning of NGOs - "foreign agents," the law criminalizing libel and extremist activities, as well as intervention in the information resources of the authorities, the law tightening criminal responsibility for riots, the blocking and seizure of buildings, etc.

The adoption of these laws caused a negative reaction from Western politicians and officials, as well as international human rights organizations.

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