GUE/NGL MEPs Helmut Scholz and Georgios Katrougalos visited Ukraine just after the parliamentary elections held on 26 October for a fact-finding mission on the political, economic and social situation. They had several meetings with representatives from civil society and political parties, with social and cultural activists, and with UNHCR and OSCE representatives in Ukraine. They had also official meetings in the Ministries for Economy, Science and Education and Foreign Affairs.
“All our partners told us, that a new Maidan will soon happen if the economic and political structures of Ukraine are not profoundly changed. Representatives of civil society expressed little hope that the recent elections created the necessary conditions for the reforms needed. Certain oligarchies continue to determine the agenda of the government and parliament, as was the case before – only the political responsibilities have changed,” both MEPs said.
Having visited Kiev – a prosperous European metropolis – the delegation was shocked to see the decaying infrastructure in the Eastern part of Ukraine and be informed in detail about the living and working conditions of the miners in Krivyy Rih. The miners expressed their deep preoccupation with the plans of the new Ukrainian Parliament to introduce a new Labour Code given that the new Verkhovna rada is considered to be worsening the terms of labour contracts. It was also stressed that the provisional postponing of these plans seemed to have been stopped only in fear of taking away even more support for the newly-composed Parliament majorities.
All our interlocutors expect active assistance from the European Union in order to immediately stop the ongoing war in the Eastern regions of Ukraine and preserve the territorial integrity of the country.
“To meet these expectations, we have to understand the causes of the conflict and the interests behind it,” Helmut Scholz stated. “The redistribution of power among the oligarchic structures is accompanied by a cruel and extractive exploitation of the economy at all costs – with social and ecological devastation. The conflict region is rich in natural resources, including shale gas and rare earth and minerals. What we witness in the east of Ukraine is a classic war for natural resources.”
Georgios Katrougalos emphasised the willingness to “support those political forces in Ukraine which stand for the fully-fledged implementation of the Minsk agreement, respect of the ceasefire, the disarmament of all paramilitary forces and negotiations meeting the interests of all parties involved”.
Both MEPs stated that there is no military solution to the conflict. New original ideas for conflict resolution must be introduced, for example to introduce a shared responsibility for observing the agreed ceasefire and other Minsk protocol obligations by joint Ukrainian and Russian Federation bodies along the 2000km borders as well as a full restructuring of the armed forces and police in Ukraine under the central responsibility of the government.
“We are extremely preoccupied by the people who had to flee Crimea and the conflict areas in the East of Ukraine. We are impressed by the work of the UNHCR to help these people. Unfortunately, little is done by the Ukrainian authorities with respect to providing these people with practical assistance. We are positively surprised by the solidarity of Ukrainian society with internally displaced persons (IDPs) but concerned that the deepening of the economic crisis and the continuation of the war already sets the basis for the creation of major rifts in society and conflicts with the IDPs.”