Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine and Head of the EU Delegation Matti Maasikas says no irreparable actions have taken place so far in the situation regarding EU visa-free travel and the EU will be closely monitoring anti-corruption institutions in Ukraine.
Conditions for the visa-free regime include, among other things, institutional parameters, the diplomat said in an interview for the RBC Ukraine news agency.
"And we are concerned about some events around the anti-corruption architecture... Of course, we do not comment in any way on decisions by the Constitutional Court [on unconstitutionality of a decree on the appointment of the National Anti-corruption Bureau's (NABU) chief]. But we want to focus on legal, constitutional clarity around NABU, which should be restored very quickly," he said.
According to Maasikas, the situation around NABU should be resolved as soon as possible.
"Of course, this is something that the European Union and EU partners are watching very, very closely. The visa liberalization process is assessed every year, and we will be monitoring this very closely," the ambassador added.
Read alsoZelensky reacts to row over SAPO chief selectionMaasikas clarified the statement made by MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel about the direct threat to the visa-free travel with Ukraine carries weight, but it is the European Commission that has the final say. At the same time, the ambassador claims nothing irreversible has yet been done in the matters.
Threat to EU visa-free travel after replacing top anti-corruption prosecutor
- On August 21, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova signed an order to dismiss Deputy Prosecutor General and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) chief Nazar Kholodnytsky, approving his resignation.
- On September 17, the Verkhovna Rada appointed parliamentary members to the commission to select a new SAPO chief: Olena Busol, Andriy Hudzhal, Oleksiy Drozd, Kateryna Koval, Bohdan Romaniuk, Viacheslav Navrotsky, and Yevhen Sobol.
- The European Parliament's Rapporteur for Ukraine, Michael Gahler, and the Vice-Chair of Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, expressed concern over the Verkhovna Rada's move.
- "While international community is occupied with Belarus, Ukraine's government is hastily pushing candidates lacking experience and integrity to select SAPO head. This will not fly. Ukraine's government is jeopardizing visa-free with the EU and further trance of EUR1.5 billion assistance," Viola von Cramon-Taubadel wrote on Twitter on September 17.
- The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv also commented on the developments. "The U.S. and the EU take note of the Rada decision to appoint members to the commission to choose the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. The commission needs to embark on a transparent process with candidates' integrity and merits at its core. Our further support will depend upon it," the Embassy wrote on Facebook on September 17.
- In turn, First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova says Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not see any grounds for the European Union's revising visa-free travel with Ukraine.