On a recent visit to Ukraine, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland highlighted the Ukrainian people’s commitment to the pursuit of a modern, democratic, European state.
Commending the Rada’s “historic” votes to send constitutional amendments on decentralization to the Constitutional Court and to approve a package of reform measures required to unlock the next tranche of IMF funding, Assistant Secretary Nuland said the measures were “steps that will break the old oligarchic system that operated [in Ukraine] and put [Ukraine] on the path to true, democratic, open market governance; clean economy; market standards; European standards.”
She also noted the amendments fulfill Ukraine’s obligations under the Minsk ceasefire agreements, and will “bring to [Ukraine’s] constitution European standards of decentralized power;” including the “opportunity for all the regions of Ukraine to control their own future, to have more power in budgeting, to take the kind of responsibility for improving quality of life at the local level — [and] the quality of democracy at the local level — and to bring growth to the local economy.”
A key factor in Ukraine’s economic development will be confronting corruption in all its forms. Recent anti-corruption legislation allows for personnel changes in order to create a more transparent law enforcement system. Equally important is a functioning justice system.
It’s not just a matter of presenting cases to the prosecutor, said Assistant Secretary Nuland, “The prosecutor has to complete some cases. . .so that the people of Ukraine have confidence that if they report a crime. . .those people are going to pay, that there will be justice.”
Assistant Secretary Nuland urged unity among Ukrainians in implementing reforms. “We want to see that united front work as quickly as possible on these very difficult economic and rule of law reforms.”
With regard to the September 2014 Minsk ceasefire agreements and the February 12 Minsk Implementation Plan, Assistant Secretary Nuland said, “We’ve made absolutely clear that we expect Minsk to be implemented. As you know, the sanctions that ... the U.S. and the EU have in place – are there to change the policy of Russia, to encourage it to fulfill its obligations. We’ve made clear that they will stay in place until Minsk is fully implemented, including an end to the violence, including a return of hostages, a return of the border. But we’ve also made clear that if the violence increases, we’re prepared to put more pressure on Russia.”