The crisis in Ukraine continues to be a major focus for the EU. At the most recent Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 23 June, which I attended, Ministers were briefed by the new Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin.
The Council conclusions reiterated strong condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. The Council decided to prohibit the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol with the exception of those with a certificate of origin issued by the Government of Ukraine. The Council called on the European External Action Service and the Commission to continue to monitor the situation, and to present further measures, as necessary. We also urged UN member states to consider similar measures, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 concerning the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Ireland is also co-sponsoring a Ukrainian draft Resolution on assistance and cooperation with Kiev in the human rights field at the twenty-sixth session of the UN Human Rights Council currently underway in Geneva. The draft Resolution reaffirms our commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
There have been several positive developments in recent weeks – not least the Presidential elections and the peace plan presented by President Poroshenko. As the Deputy will be aware from our meeting at last week’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland fully supports the President’s initiative which we hope will lead to the negotiated peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine that we all wish to see. However, the situation in Eastern Ukraine remains volatile and violence has continued despite the ceasefire announced by President Poroshenko on 20 June. It is now all the more important that direct contacts between Ukraine and Russia bring rapid and tangible results, that the opportunity offered by the ceasefire is seized by all and that the EU continues to support efforts towards de-escalation and stability.
The signature of the Association Agreement with Ukraine on 27 June on the margins of the European Council is an important symbol of the EU’s continued commitment and support, and will provide further impetus to political and economic reform efforts. President Poroshenko signed on behalf of Ukraine and shared his assessment of the prospects for a lasting settlement with the Taoiseach and other EU leaders.