UKRAINIAN CANADIAN CONGRESS WELCOMES EMERGENCY DEBATE IN CANADIAN PARLIAMENT ON SITUATION IN UKRAINE
OTTAWA - DECEMBER 10, 2013.. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) welcomed the emergency "take-note" debate being held in the House of Commons tonight at 7:30 p.m. on the situation in Ukraine.
The motion, introduced by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Hon. Peter van Loan, received all party support and will provide members of Parliament with an opportunity for a detailed four hour debate on the situation in Ukraine.
"We welcome the debate in the House of Commons. The future of Ukraine is important to Canada, to Europe, but first and foremost to the Ukrainian people who have selflessly been braving the cold in increasing numbers since November 21," stated UCC National President Paul Grod. "We Minister Baird for his leadership and all Members of Parliament for supporting the will of the Ukrainian people."
In its briefing note issued today, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress proposes the following Ukraine Strategy for the Parliament and Government of Canada :
- Engagement - Any actions by Canada must not result in the isolation of Ukraine. Otherwise, Ukraine will slip back into Russia's sphere of influence thereby losing its sovereignty. The strategy should be two-pronged: i) government to government pressure; and ii) support for civil society.
- Call upon Ukraine's President to respect the freedom of its citizens to peaceful assembly, and to call upon Ukraine's authorities to respect this right and apply restraint in interaction with the peaceful protesters.
- Demand that the governing authorities of Ukraine respect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Ukrainians, and specifically to call upon them to:
(a) release from jail all peaceful protestors of EuroMaidans; (b) refrain from the use of force to break up peaceful demonstrations; (c) end any undue pressure on civil society, students and journalists in relation to EuroMaidans' activities; and (d) punish all those responsible for gross human rights violations related to peaceful protests at EuroMaidans. Failing which, Canada should, together with its U.S. and European allies, impose personal sanctions on those responsible for these violations akin to those provided in the Magnitsky legislation.
- Reiterate the firm commitment of Canada to Ukraine's Euro-integration and the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement on the basis of the clear, united and undeniable call of the people of Ukraine, as manifested by EuroMaidans throughout Ukraine; and
- Develop a sound policy and plan to address Russia's violations of its international commitments, particularly the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, with which Russia committed to refrain from economic pressure on Ukraine.
- In concert with U.S. and European authorities, play a leadership role in the G8, the G20, the International Monetary Fund and other international fora to explore all of the ways in which the international community can combat money laundering in and through Ukraine. Explore with its international partners the means by which the international travel and illicit "business" activities of corrupt business people, government officials and their families could be restricted in accordance with applicable Canadian law.
- In coordination with her European allies, Canada should offer loans or loan guarantees to support Ukraine in its transition to the EU.
- Restart negotiations for a Canada Ukraine Free Trade Agreement to help Ukraine diversify its economic dependence on Russia.
- Reduce or remove visa restrictions on Ukrainian citizens to Canada in an effort to impart upon them Canadian values.
"We must work with our international allies to offset the intense economic and political pressure being applied by Russia on Ukraine to turn its back on the EU and join the Eurasian Economic Union which is no more than an attempt by Russia to recreate the Soviet Union. The EU will allow the Ukrainian people will be able to enjoy the benefits of being part of a larger, forward looking economic block," stated Grod. "Canada has been clear in its message for Mr. Putin to keep his hands off Ukraine. Prime Minister Harper should consider boycotting the Olympic games in Sochi if Russia doesn't respect the choice of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people."
The emergency debate will commence at approximately 6:30 Eastern and continue for approximately 4 hours.