EU hails Ukraine's 'strong attachment' to democracy
23 April 2019 | International
“Allow us to express our appreciation for the strong attachment to democracy and the rule of law that the people of Ukraine have demonstrated throughout the electoral process,” EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said in a joint letter to Zelensky.
“This is a major achievement in the complex political, economic and security environment, against the backdrop of continuous challenges to Ukraine's territorial integrity,” they said.
Kiev's pursuit of closer ties with the west and the European Union helped trigger the five-year conflict with Russia that has seen the EU slap sanctions against Moscow.
Tusk and Juncker said that Zelensky “can also count on the EU's continued and steadfast support of Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” in reference to the conflict.
The war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and rebels backed by Moscow has claimed some 13 000 lives and rumbles on despite a series of periodic truce deals.
The EU-brokered Minsk peace agreement, backed by Moscow and Kiev, was first reached in late 2014 and then re-worked in early 2015 but is violated regularly.
The EU also has sanctions in force against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Outgoing Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has been a regular presence in Brussels as he solicited western support to keep the sanctions and assured implementation of Ukraine's association agreement with the EU.
As part of that agreement, Tusk and Juncker said Zelensky “can count on the EU's strong support to Ukraine's reform path” including fighting corruption and overhauling the energy sector.