EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and the Member of the European Commission, Stefan Fule, welcome the initiative of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych for the convening of special Constitutional Assembly to begin the process of constitutional reform. It is stated in a letter of the EU officials, addressed to the MPs of Ukraine, Chairman of the Party of Regions parliamentary faction, Olexander Yefremov, and Deputy Chairman of the Party of Regions on International Policy, Leonid Kozhara, ForUm learned from the press office of the Party of Regions (see the original letter -ed.).

Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule stressed the need to undertake constitutional reform through an inclusive process and to aim it to establish a coherent, lasting and democratic system of checks and balances in accordance with European standards. “In the light of these considerations, we welcome the initiative of the President of Ukraine to convene a specialised Constitutional Assembly to launch a process of constitutional reform,” European politicians stressed.

They also added that the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has an extensive expertise in the area of constitutional reforms and can assist the Ukrainian authorities in the process of establishing a Constitutional Assembly. “To this end, we note that the Ukrainian authorities have already undertaken a first important step by consulting the Venice Commission on the concept paper on the establishment and functioning of a Constitutional Assembly,” the EU representatives added.

The authors of the letter also informed that they have carefully considered the request for taking the initiative to convince the representatives from the parties in the opposition to engage in the works of the Constitutional Assembly. A good example to be followed by organising similar close consultations with the Venice Commission experts they called the cooperation of the Ukrainian authorities with the Council of Europe on the draft Criminal Procedure Code.

According to the European experts, such cooperation would aim at the elaboration of a concept of a Constitutional Assembly that would secure the effective participation in the drafting process of all the relevant political forces, experts and representatives of civil society at large as well as to allow for public debates on the substance of this core reform. “Such a process would ensure the legitimacy of a new Constitution and the political system in Ukraine,” stressed Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule.

The authors of the letter informed that in their meetings with the representatives of the opposition parties in Ukraine they had encouraged them to take a constructive approach to core reform processes. “A concept of a Constitutional Assembly developed in close consultation with the Venice Commission experts would provide strong arguments for the involvement of both opposition representatives and organisations of the civil society. To this end, we would encourage the authors of the concept paper on the Constitutional Assembly to organise, if agreed, a roundtable inviting representatives of the opposition and civil society organizations and experts from Venice Commission with a view to debate a concept of the Constitutional Assembly agreeable to all, based on international experiences,” they noted.

Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule assured, they will continue to monitor this important matter closely and to take any necessary steps to support a comprehensive constitutional reform process in Ukraine in such a way as to ensure the broadest political and public legitimacy.

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