Ukrainian Canadian Congress Welcomes Foriegn Affairs Comittee Report On Ukraine

Jun 21st, 2012 | By | Category: Canada, Politics, Ukrainians Worldwide

OTTAWA – June 20, 2012-The Ukrainian Canadian Congress congratulated the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on the completion of its report on Ukraine entitled, “The Rule of Law, Democracy and Prosperity in Ukraine: A Canadian Parliamentary Perspective”, which was tabled in the House of Commons this afternoon.

“The Ukrainian Canadian Congress welcomes this detailed and thorough analysis of the situation in Ukraine undertaken by the Standing Committee. This report is historic and significant, as the committee met with expert witnesses in both Canada and Ukraine to complete its in depth study,” stated Ukrainian Canadian Congress National President Paul Grod. “We are particularly pleased that the committee recommends a long term policy of engagement with Ukraine, and echoes a number of the points made by the UCC and its member organizations regarding strengthening the rule of law and civil society in Ukraine and sending a large electoral observation mission for this fall’s critical Parliamentary elections in Ukraine, including a large contingent of long-term observers.”

The committee also encouraged Canada to review its priorities for development assistance in Ukraine; to proceed carefully with Free Trade negotiations and make ratification contingent on progress in the area of human rights; increasing exchanges between Canadians and Ukrainians; and looking at possibilities for the international community to combat money laundering in and through Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian Canadian community was pleased to play an active role in the committee’s work. The work of the committee complimented the historic Ukraine at the Crossroads conference organized by the UCC and the Canada Ukraine Foundation,” stated Taras Zalusky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the League of Ukrainian Canadians and the Canada Ukraine Foundation for their excellent work and cooperation in this process.”

The committee report may be viewed in its entirety here: Click Here

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress appeared before the committee in October 2011, and attended the committee’s May hearings in Ukraine (Kharkiv, Kyiv and L’viv) along with representatives of the Canada Ukraine Foundation and the League of Ukrainian Canadians.

The committee report makes a number of recommendations to the Government of Canada based on the evidence that the committee heard and the conclusions outlined in this report. It made the following recommendations regarding Canada’s engagement with Ukraine:

1. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada pursue a long-term policy of principled engagement with Ukraine. This engagement should address the full range of issues raised in this report, including the rule of law, political and economic governance, elections, the enabling environment for civil society, media freedom, academic freedom, religious freedom, business and investment, youth mobility, and cultural exchanges.

2. The Committee recommends that in the immediate term the Government of Canada should advocate forcefully for:
Immediate, independent and appropriate medical treatment for all incarcerated political leaders, in particular those detained under apparently politically motivated charges;
The prompt release of all political leaders who have been convicted as part of apparently politically motivated prosecutions, including Yulia Tymoshenko, Yuri Lutsenko, and Valeriy Ivashchenko, among others;
A strengthened rule of law and full respect for human rights, media freedom, religious freedom and academic freedom in Ukraine.
3. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada take all practical action to assist in the holding of free, fair and transparent parliamentary elections in Ukraine in October 2012 that are acceptable according to international standards and to the citizens of Ukraine. In addition to other training and capacity building support, the Government of Canada should use multilateral, bilateral and other channels to ensure a significant number of Canadians, at least equivalent to the number sent during the presidential election of 2010, participate as long and short-term observers in these critical elections. Long-term observers should be deployed at the earliest possible date. Canada’s election observation mission to Ukraine should be led by a Canadian of prominent stature.

4. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to conduct free trade negotiations with the Government of Ukraine. However, any final agreement must contain provisions related to the rule of law and democracy in accordance with existing Canadian practice. In addition, the Government of Canada must state publicly that ratification of any free trade agreement will be contingent upon the achievement of real progress related to human rights, democracy and rule of law, and on acceptable action regarding selective and apparently politically motivated prosecutions against political leaders.

5. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue CIDA assistance to Ukraine. At the same time, it recommends that an explicit focus be placed on activities that support the rule of law and good governance in Ukraine and improved capacity for civil engagement in governance and decision-making at all levels. Development assistance should also specifically target the strengthening of civil society organizations that are working on rule of law, human rights and governance issues.

6. In order to foster development of civil society, democracy and rule of law, the Committee recommends that the importance of increasing the numbers of young Ukrainians and young Canadians participating in the Youth Mobility Agreement be recognized.

7. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada play a leadership role in the G8, the G20, the International Monetary Fund and other international fora to explore all of the ways in which the international community can combat money laundering in and through Ukraine.

8. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada explore with its international partners the means by which the international travel and illicit “business” activities of corrupt oligarchs, government officials and their families could be restricted in accordance with applicable Canadian law.

UCC Media Contact:
Darla Penner
Telephone: (204) 942-4627

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