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Council conclusions on Ukraine (17 March 2014)
17 March 2014 17:43

1.The Council strongly condemns the holding of an illegal referendum in Crimea on joining the 
Russian Federation on 16 March, in clear breach of the Ukrainian Constitution. The EU does 
not recognise the illegal “referendum” and its outcome. It also takes note of the draft opinion 
of the Venice Commission on this “referendum”. It was held in the visible presence of armed 
soldiers under conditions of intimidation of civic activists and journalists, blacking out of 
Ukrainian television channels and obstruction of civilian traffic in and out of Crimea. 
Furthermore, there have been clear signs of increasing Russian military build-up in Crimea as 
well as denial of access to the peninsula to UN and OSCE representatives and missions 
invited by the government of Ukraine. The EU deplores these further negative developments, 
which are in clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

2. The Council recalls the statement of the EU Heads of State and Government of 6 March 
which set out that negotiations between Ukraine and Russia needed to start within a few days, 
including through multilateral mechanisms, and produce results within a limited timeframe. In 
light of the developments of last week, and in the absence of any such results, the Council has 
decided to introduce additional measures, including travel restrictions and an asset freeze 
against persons responsible for actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, 
sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, including actions on the future status of any part of 
the territory which are contrary to the Ukrainian Constitution, and persons, and entities 
associated with them.

3. The European Union remains ready to support facilitating dialogue between Ukraine and 
Russia. We urge Russia to take steps to de-escalate the crisis, immediately withdraw its forces 
back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons in line with its international commitments, 
begin direct discussions with the government of Ukraine and avail itself of all relevant 
international mechanisms to find a peaceful and negotiated solution, in full respect of its 
bilateral and multilateral commitments to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial 
integrity. In this respect, the EU regrets that the UNSC was not able to adopt a resolution, 
owing to a veto by the Russian Federation. 

4. There is still time to reverse current developments. Opportunities exist to avoid a negative 
spiral. The EU is ready for a constructive dialogue with all sides. The EU remains committed 
to the objective of developing the EU-Russia relationship, based on mutual interest and 
respect for international law. The Council regrets that Russia’s actions contradict these 
objectives. The Council urges the Russian Federation not to take steps to annex Crimea in 
violation of international law. 
Any further steps by the Russian Federation to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead 
to additional and far-reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas 
between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Russian 
Federation, on the other hand. The European Union calls on Russia to return to developing a 
strategic partnership with the EU instead of isolating itself further diplomatically and 
economically.

5. The Council considers that there is an urgent need for an international presence on the ground 
throughout Ukraine, including in Crimea. The Council supports the swift deployment of an 
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

6. The Council welcomes the Commission's proposal for temporarily removing customs duties 
on Ukrainian exports to the EU and looks forward to its swift adoption. It furthermore looks 
forward to the signing of the political provisions of the Association Agreement on 21 March 
in Brussels and confirms its commitment to proceed to the signature and conclusion of the 
remaining parts of the Agreement which together with the political provisions constitute a 
single instrument. These steps will confirm Ukraine's free and sovereign decision to pursue 
Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the European Union.

7. The European Union is ready to stand by Ukraine and committed to provide strong financial 
support to its economic and financial stabilisation, as presented by the European Commission 
in its assistance package to Ukraine which we are committed to implement rapidly. The 
Council encourages the EIB to continue its operations in Ukraine. IMF support will be critical 
to enabling assistance from the European Union as the immediate priority is to restore 
macroeconomic stability through sound fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies. At the 
same time, we reiterate our call on the Ukrainian government to launch urgently an ambitious 
set of structural reforms, including notably the fight against corruption and enhancing 
transparency of fiscal expenditure.

8. The EU also confirmed its readiness to continue to assist Ukraine in securing its energy 
supply through further diversification, enhanced energy efficiency, and effective 
interconnections with the European Union.

9. The European Union commends the measured response shown so far by Ukraine. The EU 
again encourages the Ukrainian authorities to implement an inclusive process, to pursue their 
efforts to ensure free and fair elections and to advance constitutional reform. All human rights 
violations and acts of violence need to be properly investigated and measures need to be 
stepped up to combat impunity. In this context, the EU looks forward to the early 
establishment of the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel. The EU also calls on 
the Ukrainian authorities to continue to reach out to all Ukrainian regions and population 
groups and to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national 
minorities, drawing on the expertise of the Council of Europe and the OSCE. It also supports 
the Council of Europe tasking of its Advisory Committee for the Framework Convention for 
the Protection of National Minorities to review the situation of national minorities in Ukraine. 3

10. The Council reiterates the EU's commitment to enhance people-to-people contacts between 
the citizens of the European Union and Ukraine, i.a. through the visa liberalisation process, in 
line with agreed conditions in the framework of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan."

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