Oct 12 2015

NATO urged to boost support to Ukraine at critical juncture

Communiqué de presse de l’Assemblée parlementaire de l’OTAN :

Stavanger, 11 October 2015 – Ukraine is at a critical juncture and NATO must boost political and economic support to its government and keep pressuring Russia to respect the Minsk peace accords, parliamentarians from NATO nations warned on Sunday.

The challenges facing Ukraine “would be a very tall order even in peacetime. It is all the more daunting at a moment of grave insecurity,” Richard Benyon, from the United Kingdom, told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Economics and Security Committee.

Some 6,800 people have been killed and 1.4 million driven from their homes due to the conflict between Russian-backed separatists and government forces since April 2014. Ukraine’s economy also continues to decline, with GDP expected to fall by 10 percent this year.

In a draft resolution likely to be adopted by the assembly on Monday, the deputies urge governments “to redouble efforts to help Ukraine at this critical juncture by increasing diplomatic, political, financial, economic, material and expert assistance.”

French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, the resolution’s author, also said “it’s possible that the right application of political leverage can persuade Russia and the separatists to seek genuine reconciliation with the Ukrainian authorities.”

“There is no military solution to this conflict. Diplomacy must be given a chance,” she told the assembly’s Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security.

On the economy, Tor Bukkvoll, from the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, said it’s likely this year that “Ukraine will probably hit rock bottom. Then it’s a question of whether it’s going to stay there.”

He warned that the pace of reform is still going too slow, with oligarchs and Ukraine’s bloated bureaucracy putting the brakes on efforts.

“It’s going to take a long time. The anti-reform forces are very strong,” Bukkvoll told the Economics and Security Committee. He also warned that a new popular uprising cannot be ruled out: “The current political elite must know this could happen. They fear it, I think.”

Benyon also cautioned that the considerable international financial aid offered to Ukraine still might not be enough. “We may need to come up with more help to get Ukraine on a long-term path of growth and stability,” he said.

In any case, he said, Ukraine “has no choice but to advance this reform process despite the prevailing crisis conditions.”