In the opening speech at the 4th Ukraine Reform Conference “Strong Ukraine in a Stronger European and Euro-Atlantic Family”, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić spoke about the important contribution that Ukraine has made to life in Europe, the steps taken by the country on the path of reform, and about what needs to be done to advance those efforts.
Progress has been made, the Secretary General noted, namely in ensuring fairness of the election reform, in decentralising the government, in including Roma and Travellers, restructuring investigation and prosecution services, enhancing rights of internally displaced persons, as well as in rendering media ownership more transparent and public broadcasting more secure. “Efforts are underway to ratify our Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, this is very welcome,” the Secretary General underlined.
Among the areas where Ukraine would benefit from further reforms, Pejčinović Burić named the execution of judgments of the European Court, better protection of minority languages and education rights by implementing the Council of Europe’s recommendations and legal standards, as well as prevention of, and the fight against, corruption.
“The good news is that every one of these issues features highly in the current Action Plan agreed by Ukraine and the Council of Europe,” the Secretary General said, thanking the European Union and the 26 additional donors who have contributed financially to its implementation.
“Undertaking any reform is also more challenging in the context of armed conflict,” she noted, adding that the Council of Europe, while not a security organisation, stands to secure the fundamental rights of every citizen in all of its member states. “We agree on the need to fully implement the Minsk agreements and the Paris summit conclusions in order to end the military conflict in Donbas. We are concerned about the human rights situation, right now, on the Crimean Peninsula,” the Secretary General said, adding that she has already taken the initial steps needed to implement a recent decision by the Council of Ministers in May 2021, inviting her to engage with all parties to secure access to Crimea for Council of Europe bodies, and to issue regular reports on the human rights situation there.