Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (147, 148, 149, 150)

Gerry Adams

Question:

147. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the policy of sanctions agreed at the Brussels EU summit meeting in respect of Russia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14766/14]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

148. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will set out the circumstances under which the Government will support increased sanctions against Russia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14767/14]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

149. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if any of those Russian citizens against whom sanctions have been applied by the European Union are known to have interests here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14769/14]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

150. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is concerned at developments in Ukraine; if he will discuss this issue with other EU leaders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10348/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 to 150, inclusive, together.

At its meeting on 20-21 March, the European Council held a comprehensive discussion on the situation in Ukraine. The Taoiseach, who attended the European Council, has already reported to this House on those discussions and on the decisions of the Heads of State and Government. The European Council adopted a strong message of support to Ukraine and agreed on a number of concrete measures in that regard. It called for rapid agreement on macro-financial assistance to Ukraine and underlined that an agreement with the IMF is critical to enable this assistance. I am pleased to say that the IMF has since announced a standby assistance package worth between $14 and $18 billion. EU Member States have agreed to coordinate their positions in the IMF regarding the conditions for assistance to Ukraine.

As a sign of the Union's support for, and solidarity with the people and government of Ukraine, the EU leaders also signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatseniuk, signed on behalf of his country. In its Conclusions, the European Council commended the measured response shown so far by Ukraine and welcomed the government's commitment to ensure the representative nature and inclusiveness of governmental structures, reflecting regional diversity, to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, to undertake constitutional reform, to investigate all human rights violations and acts of violence and to fight extremism. In this context, the EU encouraged the government of Ukraine to ensure that the Presidential election on 25 May will be free and fair.

The European Council strongly condemned the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation and made clear that the Union would not recognise it. The European Council was clear that there is no place for the use of force and coercion to change borders in Europe in the 21st century. The Russian actions are in clear breach of the Helsinki process, which in the past 40 years has contributed to overcoming divisions in Europe and building a peaceful and united continent. In view of the absence of any steps towards de-escalation, the Heads of State and Government decided on an extension of the visa ban and asset freeze and cancelled the next EU-Russia summit which had been scheduled to take place in Sochi in June.

While remaining open for dialogue, the European Council recalled in its Conclusions that any further steps by the Russian Federation to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Russian Federation, on the other hand. In this respect, the European Council asked the Commission and the Member States to prepare possible targeted measures. In the meantime, the European Council has asked the Commission to evaluate the legal consequences of the annexation of Crimea and to propose economic, trade and financial restrictions regarding Crimea for rapid implementation.

The question of the nature and scope of sanctions is always a complex and difficult issue and, as the Taoiseach said in Brussels, inevitably will have negative economic consequences for the EU, including Ireland, as well as for Russia. It is only right, therefore, that we prepare such decisions carefully and we have tasked the Commission accordingly. Ireland is engaged in the continuing discussions with our partners in Brussels on this matter.

In relation to the Deputy's question regarding those Russian citizens against whom sanctions have been applied by the European Union, it would not be appropriate to comment on any individuals. I can assure the Deputy, however, that Ireland is complying with its obligations. While the EU Regulations concerned have direct effect in Ireland, it is necessary to introduce secondary legislation provisions to create the necessary offences and penalties which are to apply and these are currently being drafted.