Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Interview

Ukraine resignation is 'cold shower' for elite

  • Linkevicius: 'I hope it [Abromavicius' resignation] isn’t the final call' (Photo: eu2013.lt)

The surprise resignation of Ukraine’s Lithuanian economy minister in protest at high-level corruption is a “cold shower” for Kiev’s political elite, Lithuania’s foreign minister has said.

“It’s a cold shower for all those in Ukraine who believe their personal interests are more important than those of their country," foreign minister Linas Linkevicius told EUobserver on Thursday (4 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Abromavicius (l) is part of a group of foreign fixers installed in Kiev top posts (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

"It’s very alarming when one of the most effective reformists in the government says he can’t do his work," he said.

"This shouldn’t happen in a country which is, anyway, facing many problems in the security and economic dimensions."

Linkevicus noted there had been a “strong” international reaction, from EU ambassadors in Kiev and from the US, calling for Ukraine to do better.

The US state department’s spokesman, James Kirby, also said on Wednesday: “It’s important that Ukraine’s leaders set aside their differences, put the vested interests that have hindered the country’s progress for decades - put that all in the past, and press forward on these same vital reforms.”

Resignation 'not final'

Linkevicius spoke after Ukraine’s economy minister, fellow Lithuanian Aivarus Abromavicius, handed in his resignation saying he refused to act as “cover” for government corruption.

He spoke, the BBC reports, of obstructions to his work “ranging from a sudden removal of my security detail to pressure to appoint questionable individuals to my team, or to key positions in state-owned enterprises”.

Abromavicius, a former banker, is part of a group of foreign fixers posted to Kiev to clean up the system.

The group includes Natalie Jaresko, a US-born banker who became Ukraine’s finance minister, and Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s former PM, who became governor of the Odessa region.

It also includes lesser-known people such as Davit Sakvarelidz, a Georgian national who became Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general.

Linkevicius said he spoke with Abromavicius by phone on Wednesday.

He said the resignation was not final, if Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko intervenes to protect him: “I know him [Abromavicius] and I hope it isn’t the final call … he might rethink his decision, pending developments.”

Lithuania is one of Ukraine’s closest allies in the EU Council.

But Linkevicius said if Kiev did not pull its socks up, it could have a negative impact on its EU visa-free travel bid. “Everything is connected,” he said.

He also warned that loss of credibility for Poroshenko helps Russia, as well as Ukraine’s former rulers who fled to Russia after the 2014 revolution, to cause trouble.

“It will play into the hands of those who want to destabilise Ukraine,” he said.

'Many mistakes'

Corruption aside, Poroshenko is also losing popularity in his bid to pass laws governing local elections in Russia-occupied regions in east Ukraine.

France and Germany, negotiating on behalf of the EU last year, agreed the elections should be a cornerstone of the Russia-Ukraine ceasefire accord, the "Minsk" agreement.

But Poroshenko’s opponents say they represent capitulation to Russia’s puppet regimes, the Donetsk and Luhansk so-called people’s republics.

Asked if Paris and Berlin had made a mistake, Linkevicus said "many mistakes were made".

He said the elections cannot go ahead when Russia-controlled fighters continue to exchange fire with Ukraine forces and Russia is pouring weapons over the border.

He also said there’s no access to Donetsk or Luhansk for international observers, Ukrainian political parties, or Ukrainian media.

The Lithuanian FM said the “sequencing” of Minsk compliance was “illogical.”

“That [Ukraine’s] control of the border should come after the elections? How can this be done?”, he said.

'Wishful thinking'

Linkevicius spoke to EUobserver from London, where he’s taking part in a conference on Syria.

Russia entered the Syria conflict last year with bombing raids which, EU and US diplomats say, are designed to protect Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Diplomats say the Syria conflict has nothing to do with Ukraine, noting that Russia played a positive role in Iran nuclear talks despite its Ukraine invasion.

But Linkevicius said Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine must be taken into account in other theatres.

“It’s wishful thinking to say Russia will act along one line in one conflict and along very different lines in another conflict,” he said.

EU sanctions on former Ukraine regime unravel

Combined investigative capacities of 28 EU states and 18,000 Ukrainian officials, over two years, failed to build a case that former Ukraine regime stole money.

Dutch PM takes back seat on Ukraine vote

Dutch leader Rutte will not defend Yes vote "with flyers and flags and the like", despite polls showing the No camp could sink the Ukraine pact, in echoes of 2005.

Opinion

Dutch voters could derail gay rights in Ukraine

If Dutch voters stop the EU-Ukraine treaty in a referendum in April, they will help to stall the reform process. What will happen to Ukraine’s LGBT community?

West told Ukraine to abandon Crimea, document says

US moved warships out of Russia's way. Germany urged Ukraine not to fight - newly-published minutes of a Kiev crisis meeting in 2014 show how the West let Putin seize Crimea out of "fear."

News in Brief

  1. UK opposition demand election if parliament rejects Brexit plan
  2. EU to have coordinated plan on AI by December
  3. No UK election before Brexit, says May
  4. Former French PM wants to be mayor of Barcelona
  5. Merkel's wingman in surprise defeat in internal party vote
  6. Orban sends thank-you letters to supportive MEPs
  7. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  8. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU agrees 'hair-trigger' chemical weapons sanctions
  2. World upside down as EU and Russia unite against US
  3. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  4. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  5. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  6. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  7. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  8. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us