The EU’s foreign policy chief has urged Ukraine to take tougher action against corruption as it moves closer to Europe.
Federica Mogherini visited Kyiv just one week after lawmakers there blocked a bill banning discrimination against gay workers, a precondition for visa-free travel to most EU member states.
Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko said: “I’m very thankful for Mrs Vice-President [of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini], that she has provided a clear stance from the EU to give visa-free rights to Ukraine in the case of reforms implementation, which we have agreed with our European colleagues.”
Mogherini said the eastern Ukraine conflict must remain “very high” on the agenda of world leaders.
“As we focus very much on the migration crisis, on the Mediterranean, on the Middle East, we have to keep very high and top of our agenda our common work on, first of all the situation in the east of Ukraine, the non-recognition policy of the annexation of Crimea, and the reform process in Ukraine itself,” Mogherini said.
Euronews correspondent Dmytro Polonsky reported from Kyiv: “The problem of Ukraine is that it does not listen to Europeans. Brussels hints that Kyiv has to speed up the establishment of anti-corruption bureau, because it affects the progress of a visa-free regime. It needs to be in place by December, so Kyiv has only three weeks to vote on the draft laws, something which did not happen last week.”
The European Union in 2010 said that Ukrainians’ free travel depended in part on Kyiv adding a clause to its Soviet-era labour code that would ban all forms of discrimination against gays in the work place.
Homosexuality was a criminal offence that landed people in jail or mental institutions in the Soviet Union.
Ukraine decriminalised it in 1992 — a year ahead of neighbouring Russia — but anti-gay prejudice remains high in large swathes of the overwhelmingly religious and conservative country.
A second vote on the anti-discrimination legislation is expected within days.
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