Friday

26th May 2017

UK, Poland and Sweden propose EU police mission for Ukraine

  • The EU's border control mission in western Ukraine has been training local officials since 2005 (Photo: eubam.org)

The UK, Poland, and Sweden have proposed sending an EU police mission to Ukraine to build up its law enforcement bodies in the wake of February’s revolution.

“Re-establishing confidence in the rule of law in Ukraine will be vital for future stability. We thus propose a capacity-building mission focused on supporting the police and judicial system,” they said in an informal paper circulated in Brussels this week.

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The paper, seen by EUobserver, notes the mission would focus on “monitoring, mentoring and advising” as well as “strategic advice”.

It says: “While the mission should primarily focus on central government in Kiev, it should also have a remit to work in the regions, monitoring and providing advice on how to build a robust national system in the medium to long-term.”

“This would provide a clearer idea of the pressures and challenges in the regions, and give a greater understanding of what is happening on the ground,” it adds.

EU ambassadors discussed the idea on Wednesday.

But the paper also calls on the EU’s foreign service to put the proposal on the agenda of a foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

“In principle, launch of the mission should occur by June 2014 and a core team should deploy to Kiev as soon as possible after the FAC [the ministers’ meeting] to commence planning and co-ordination,” it says.

The mission, under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) umbrella, would work together with the EU’s existing border-control operation in western Ukraine, the so-called Eubam.

It would also work alongside a military monitoring mission already sent into the field by the OSCE, a multilateral body in Vienna, and alongside Nato experts working on Ukraine security sector reform.

“A CSDP mission supporting the wider rule of law sector and civilian aspect of security would complement and reinforce these vital efforts; there would be no duplication of activity,” the informal paper notes.

An EU diplomat told this website the idea was initially floated by the UK at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Athens last weekend, where it gained “some support”.

Several EU countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, have voiced concern about taking steps that might antagonise Russia.

The idea that the overthrow of former president Viktor Yanukovych has created lawlessness and exposed Russian-speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine to violence from nationalist self-defence squads is central to Russian propaganda justifying Russian intervention.

But the EU diplomat said the CSDP proposal is not about Russia.

“To a great extent, the Maidan [the popular anti-Yanukovych movement] was about the judicial system and rule of law in Ukraine, not just about the central government, so the new mission is designed primarily to address this,” the contact noted.

“The experts on the ground would advise and mentor police chiefs, but also other institutions, such as the prosecutors’ services … The EU has real expertise in this field to offer to the new Ukrainian government and to the Ukrainian people.”

EU visa waiver looms for Russia-annexed Crimeans

Visa liberalisation for Ukrainians entering the EU will also apply to inhabitants of the peninsula taken over by Moscow in 2014. But the issue poses administrative as well as political problems.

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