European security in deep crisis, says Ukrainian MP

President of Commission says Ukraine outcome will ‘greatly impact’ future European geopolitics

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso  at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.

Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 01:01

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso has called on Russia to accept the right of countries to choose their own future. Speaking at the European Parliament yesterday (Wednesday) morning, Mr Barroso said the European Union was being tested.

“The present situation directly challenges our unity as Europeans and the values we hold dear such as peace and democracy,” he said. “The outcome will greatly impact the geopolitical layout of our continent for years to come.”

Mr Barroso underlined that the €11 billion European Commission aid package for Ukraine would not be a quick fix and required the support and cooperation of a “reform orientated Ukrainian government.”

“Security does not come from segregation but from embracing difference and diversity,” he said. “Ukraine should not be seen as a problem for Europe but an asset for a more united European continent.”

Earlier this week the European Commission adopted a set of trade provisions which represent an economic benefit to Ukraine of around €500 million per year. Meanwhile, the EU voted last week to suspend visa-liberalisation discussions with Russia and talks on a new economic co-operation package.

Dimitris Kourkoulas, Greek European Affairs Minister, said yesterday that any further destabilisation in Crimea could seriously affect EU-Russian relations and lead to additional measures such as travel bans and asset freezes.

“The EU wants a relationship with Russia based on trust, mutual interest and respect of international relations,” Mr Kourkoulas told the parliament. “We insist on the need for Russia to engage in a dialogue with Ukraine in order to negotiate a way out of the crisis.”

He added that the EU expects the new Ukrainian administration to establish a “fight against corruption in favour of transparency.”

Irish MEP Paul Murphy argued during the debate that the EU needs to take a closer look at the “character” of the new Ukrainian government. “There are seven ministers with links to the extreme right,” he said. “It’s the oligarchs who still rule Ukraine.”

“The danger is the people of Ukraine are caught between a tug of war with the EU, US and NATO on one side, and Russia on the other.”

Following the debate, Ukrainian MP Petro Poroshenko called for Russia to recognise the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and appealed to Putin not to destroy the ties that have connected Russians and Ukrainians for decades.

He added that the situation playing out in Eastern Europe is no longer a Ukrainian v Russian problem, but that “European security is also now in deep crisis.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of the G7 nations, including the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, issued a statement yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon calling on the Russian Federation to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea, adding that any such referendum would be in violation of international law.