The European Parliament passed a resolution asking for travel ban and freezing the assets of those personally responsible for violence in Kiev. The Commission however said “only in case of degeneration of the current situation.”
The European Parliament and the commission are clashing over the approach to be taken on Ukraine. The Commission has repeatedly asked for an approach based on dialogue, giving the political solution all the chances it needs. MEPs do not agree – and have just approved a resolution calling for targeted sanctions from the Union and its Member States. Namely, the EP’s resolution condemns violence against peaceful protesters, and urges sanctions, such as a travel ban and an EU asset and property freeze, on people personally responsible for the attacks on and deaths of protestors: not only material executors, but also officials, legislators and their “sponsor” oligarchs.
In addition, the Parliament called for an EU “long-term package of concrete financial support for Ukraine” to be offered to a credible new interim government, in order to alleviate the current tight payments situation. MEPs also asked the establishment of a permanent mission of MEPs in Ukraine (to be created by the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents) to facilitate dialogue between the parties.
A clear message has been sent to Russia too. In a separate resolution, MEPs criticised Russia for exerting economic and political pressure on the EU’s eastern neighbourhood countries. The former Soviet power must respect the right of its neighbours to choose ties with the EU, added MEPs, who criticized Russia’s intention to treat the EU Eastern Partnership region as its sphere of influence. “Ukrainian citizens alone,” says the resolution, “have the right to decide the future of their country.”
Strasbourg was already blocked in its stance by the European Commission – which said no sanction against Kiev is currently discussed. “We have repeated several times we are following the situation very closely,” underlined Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, “if the situation gets worse we will consider these measures, but so far our focus in on the engagement.” High Representative has just returned from Kiev, where she met President Yanukovich and representatives of the opposition parties. The proposal is to be discussed again during the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in order to allow every Member State to explain its position. However, Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, has already clarified that the Union has “a strategy, and it is not centred around sanctions, it is focused on engagement.”