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The President of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, Dr Lovro Šturm, attends the 6th Ministerial Meeting on Freedom, Security and Justice between Ukraine and the EU Troika

Justice Minister Dr Lovro Šturm and representatives of the Slovenian Ministry of Justice and Ministry of the Interior today attended the 6th Ministerial Meeting on Freedom, Security and Justice between Ukraine and the EU Troika, held in Kiev, Ukraine. Also attending the meeting were Mr Ian Boag, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Ukraine, and representatives of France, as the next Member State to hold the Presidency. The Ukrainian delegation was headed by Justice Minister Mr Mykola Onishchuk. Dr Šturm said: "At the meeting today we confirmed the achievements of last year and reviewed the priorities of our extensive mutual cooperation. Today's meeting is the first such meeting to be held in Kiev, at the proposal of the Slovenian Presidency. This is an indication of the very good relations between the partners in the field of freedom, security and justice – relations that are developing excellently."

At yesterday's working dinner the ministers discussed the strengthening of justice. "The reform of the judicial system is the foundation for the reform of the whole of society, and as such must be given suitable attention in every country. An effective justice system is a precondition both for the prevention of crime and corruption and for the development of the economy and the effective protection of human rights," stressed Dr Šturm during the talks. The EU Troika was briefed on the progress of the constitutional reforms currently taking place in Ukraine. Dr Šturm stressed the importance of a system of checks and balances, which are an essential component of democracy. Both sides committed themselves to the use of the available financial instruments, including more intensive use of TAIEX seminars and projects within the twinning programme.

Dr Šturm and Ukraine's Justice Minister Mykola Onishchuk also held a bilateral meeting at which they focused in particular on the issue of the organisation of justice and modern trends in the criminal justice system.

Today's official session began with a discussion of the implementation of agreements between the EU and Ukraine on visa facilitation and readmission, and negotiations on the new enhanced agreement between the EU and the Ukraine in the field of justice and home affairs. The EU welcomed the entering into force of the two agreements at the start of this year. The two joint committees founded to supervise the implementation of the agreements have already begun preparing guidelines for the two agreements, which must be implemented effectively.

In the field of migration and asylum, the Presidency underlined the importance of close cooperation between the EU and Ukraine as immediate neighbours with a shared border. The common objective remains the improved management of migrations, including asylum and the fight against illegal migrations, while at the same time promoting human contacts and better management of borders. The Presidency welcomed the progress made on certain objectives from the Action Plan and underlined the importance of meeting international obligations in the field of asylum.

In the field of border cooperation, the EU devotes considerable attention to the coordinated and integrated management of external borders and has given a positive assessment to the process of reforms and modernisation in Ukraine's state border guard service, a process based on EU standards. Ukraine has made progress in the improvement of border management. The EU supports its efforts and will continue to work closely with it in the future, since Ukraine is one of the priority partner countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The ministers also underlined the positive results of the EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) on the Ukraine-Moldova border, the aim of which is to assist Ukrainian and Moldovan border and customs authorities. Progress has also been achieved in operational cooperation between the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX) and the Administration of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine within the context of the working agreement signed in June 2007. The agreement covers the exchange of information, knowledge and experience and training Ukrainian border authorities for the fight against illegal immigration and organised crime.

The two parties also discussed the issue of the fight against corruption, which is one of the priorities of the EU. Corruption represents a global threat and destabilises the cultural, economic and political environment. The EU plays an active role on the international stage by supporting international instruments relating to the fight against corruption.

As regards the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the EU representatives particularly welcomed Ukraine's efforts for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its protocols and notably the adoption of legislation which will facilitate Ukraine's accession to the protocol relating to the fight against illegal arms trafficking. The ministers supported a common discussion on the fight against terrorism and organised crime as new threats, since the two phenomena are closely interwoven, have similar methods, logistics and funding, and also common interests, notably the traffic in illegal drugs.

The ministers also emphasised that trafficking in human beings is contrary to the shared values of the EU and Ukraine, since it is an unacceptable violation of fundamental human rights and a constantly increasing source of funds for criminal networks. Trafficking in human beings is a phenomenon which must be dealt with along the entire chain, from first causes in developing countries to effective measures in transit and target countries. The fight against it needs to be uniform and coordinated. The EU is also encouraging Ukraine to develop its own policy for preventing illegal drugs in accordance with EU standards and to increase cooperation with EU Member States, in particular with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and with Europol. There is also a need to confront the social aspects of the problem of drugs in Ukraine and strengthen cooperation with the countries in the region.

Dr Šturm also drew attention to the strengthening of EU efforts in the fight against terrorism and organised crime: "Last month the Framework Decision amending the 2002 Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism was adopted. The amendments criminalise the following activities: public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. It is a response to the role played by the use of modern information technology, particularly the internet, in the dissemination of terrorist threats." As regards the fight against money laundering, the Presidency congratulated Ukraine for the significant progress made. The EU supports Ukraine's efforts against terrorism financing and money laundering within the TACIS project.

The ministers underlined the fact that Europol and Eurojust play an essential role in strengthening cooperation between law enforcement authorities both within the EU and with the EU's principal external partners. The EU has always supported and encouraged a deepening of this form of cooperation with important partners from third countries, of which Ukraine is one.

At the meeting the EU expressed its concern over recent cases of racism and anti-Semitism that have been reported in Ukraine. The two sides agreed on the need to condemn all expressions of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism as clear violations of fundamental rights. In this connection the Ukrainian side presented specific measures which state bodies are already implementing in this sphere.


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Date: 30.05.2008