2016-02-23 09:13:00

Ukraine: political turmoil adds to ongoing eastern crisis

(Vatican Radio) Germany and France have urged Ukraine to overcome political turmoil and move ahead with reforms needed to revive the economy and carry out the Minsk peace agreement amid reports of new deadly clashes in the east. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault came to Kiev at a time when the country faces its biggest political crisis since the ouster of the pro-Russian president after bloody protests in 2014.

Now two years later, the West has expressed frustration over a perceived lack of reforms, including ongoing corruption, and the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian backed separatists that has killed more than 9,000 people, including several servicemen and others in recent days and weeks.

Click below to hear the report from correspondent Stefan Bos

Germany minister Steinmeier made clear it wasn't fair to blame only Russia for the stalemate. "We need support from the Russian side to implement this Minsk peace deal and convince separatists to go along, but we also need Ukraine's domestic policy, especially in light of the turbulence's of the last weeks and calls for the prime minister to step down," he said.

"The discussions regarding resuming the course of reforms make it important for us to talk to the people who are responsible, with the important actors, in Kiev."


Several parties and officials have recently left the troubled coalition citing a lack of reforms. However the West fears early elections could lead to more turmoil. That's why French Foreign Minister Ayrault expressed hope that a solution will be find. "We will support Ukraine, we will support the implementation of reforms in Ukraine. We will keep on asking for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. This is the message we will send to Kiev...," he added.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he understood concerns over the lack of a ceasefire, but also made clear that Kiev expects the European Union to open its borders. "Let me start with the large scale and real ceasefire on the ground which is to be established by Russian proxies and Russian militants and Russian military," he said.

"Unity is a key issue for all of us. Unity between Ukraine and the European Union...We expect that the EU is to grant a vise-free regime for the Ukrainian people. The Parliament already passed legislation which is needed and the final report of the European Commission clearly says that Ukraine fulfilled already all necessary pre-conditions for the visa-free regime. So this will be a real tangible result," the minister stressed.

His talks with the German and French ministers came after the  International Monetary Fund warned told Ukraine that it must enact promised reforms and root out corruption or risk losing the support of the financial organization.

The IMF -- the main source of rescue financing for cash-trapped Ukraine -- has a $17.5 billion bailout program for the country on condition the government enacts economic reforms and fights corruption.

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