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EU-Ukraine Association Council: the EU reiterated its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders

The EU reiterated its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, says the joint press statement following the 6th Association Council meeting between the EU and Ukraine .

Both sides reiterated their strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. The Association Council reconfirmed its support for finding a peaceful and sustainable political solution of this conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Association Council agreed on the need for full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides, underlining Russia’s responsibility in this regard. The EU recalled that the duration of economic sanctions against the Russian Federation remain linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Association Council also reiterated its full support to the efforts in the Normandy format, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE. It welcomed the positive steps undertaken by Ukraine, including disengagement in certain areas affected by the conflict.

The Association Council welcomed the renewed engagement by the parties and the constructive approach of Ukraine in the Normandy format. This represents a window of opportunity to move towards the full implementation of the Minsk agreements and the Association Council called for the quick and thorough implementation of measures agreed at the Normandy Summit on 9 December 2019. The EU stands ready to further support the demining activities and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which must have safe, secure, unconditional and unimpeded access to the entire territory of Ukraine.

The EU recalled the guidance that it has issued on territorial competence and non-recognition of passports as a consequence of the Russian presidential decree of 24 April 2019.

The Association Council welcomed the inclusive approach by Ukraine towards the population of the conflict-affected areas of east and southeast of Ukraine. At the same time, it noted with concern the continuous deterioration of human rights situation in the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The EU reaffirmed its policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol by Russia, including through restrictive measures. The Association Council condemned the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula, the conduct of Russian local elections in  the illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol on 8 September 2019, the building of the Kerch Strait Bridge without Ukraine’s consent, the opening of the railway link on 23 December, and the further militarisation of the peninsula as well as of the Black and Azov Seas. The Association Council called on Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage to and from the Sea of Azov, in accordance with international law.

The EU recalled its increased support to help mitigate the impact of Russia’s destabilising actions in the Sea of Azov region, via a number of measures, including the opening of the EU office in Mariupol, and support for local economic diversification. Both sides welcomed the International Investment Conference in Mariupol in October 2019 dedicated to further development of the Azov region and agreed to stay engaged in its follow-up.

The Association Council noted the broad cooperation between Ukraine and the EU in the sphere of Common Foreign and Security Policy, in particular Ukraine’s alignment with the EU’s statements and declarations on international and regional issues.

The Association Council reiterated its full support for the UN Security Council Resolution 2166 concerning the downing of the flight MH17 and, recalling the findings of the Joint Investigation Team, called on Russia to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability.

The Association Council acknowledged the interest of Ukraine to participate in the future Creative Europe programme, including Media sub-programme, and the new EU Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

The Association Council confirmed the intention of both sides to pursue joint efforts to provide support for training of Ukrainian civil servants in cooperation with the College of Europe in Natolin.

The Association Council commended Ukraine’s active participation and contribution to the bilateral and multilateral dimensions of the Eastern Partnership. The EU and Ukraine looked forward to the Eastern Partnership Summit in June 2020.