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EU Calls For Reforms In Ukraine In Return For Financial Aid

The European Union has called on Ukraine's new government to implement reforms in return for financial aid being provided to the country in the wake of attacks from Russia and rebels in the east.

EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn visited Ukraine last week.

Upon his return, Hahn said at a news conference that he told Ukraine's leaders that Internal reforms are essential in Ukraine. The rule of law creates the necessary climate for investment by Ukrainian investors but also from foreign enterprises. Interest is there if the conditions can be created.

Hahn said his key message was that "the EU is not just a donor for Ukraine. We need something in return. Ukraine needs to move from an idea of itself as a recipient of aid to the idea of itself as an investment opportunity. We will continue to support Ukraine - not only with financial means but with the expertise for example of the Support Group for Ukraine, to help it make this shift."

Hahn visited Ukraine on the occasion of the opening session of the new Rada: first Parliament with the necessary majority for reforms.

After a remarkable year, free and fair conduct of elections for President and Parliament was noted in the country. The new government has a very big majority.

Hahn spoke with leading figures from the key parties, including the opposition. Pro-European course is clear, and so is the will for the necessary reforms, such as decentralization. The public, the voters and those who risked so much on the Maidan, now expect promises to be kept.

Everyone - politicians, and civil society - know that the country is in a very serious situation following events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and Russia's retaliatory measures. Nearly a million people are displaced.

The EU and international community must stay firm. This is why sanctions have just been extended.

Hahn told reporters that it was an important sign of unity, that the President, Speaker, and Prime minister of Ukraine held a joint meeting with him in the Parliament. He also held bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister and Foreign minister. They are explicitly asking the EU to play a role in their transition.

IMF has been carrying out an evaluation now with a view to releasing its next two tranches of support, worth $2.7 billion. Hahn vowed that the European Commission will follow this closely.

He said he signed an agreement for regional development worth EUR55 million with Ukraine's Minister of the economy Valery Piatnitsky. Also, he confirmed that the second tranche of the second Macro Financial Assistance program for Ukraine will be delivered shortly.

Hahn said he has committed to visit the country every quarter to help monitor progress and co-ordinate efforts. He also has asked his services to work with colleagues from the EEAS to draw up a single to do list for Ukraine, including some short term priorities.

Hahn made it clear that " If we all work with commitment and political will, we can achieve the results the country wants and needs. No shortage of determination on our side."

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