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Ukraine: EU agrees on targeted sanctions

At an extraordinary meeting on 20 February, EU foreign ministers decided to introduce sanctions against those responsible for violence and the use of excessive force in Ukraine.

The restrictive measures include an asset freeze and visa ban on individuals responsible for human rights violations, violence and use of excessive force. The EU member states also agreed to suspend export licences for equipment which might be used for internal repression and to reassess export licences for equipment covered by Common Position 2088/944/CFSP.

The Council tasked the relevant working parties with making the necessary preparations immediately.

Calls to end violence

In the conclusions, ministers expressed their deep dismay at the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. They called for an immediate end to the violence, full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right of access to medical assistance, and for urgent independent investigations into human rights violations.

They urged the Ukrainian government to exercise maximum restraint and opposition leaders to distance themselves from those who resort to radical action, including violence.

"We call on all sides to engage in an inclusive and meaningful dialogue to deescalate the situation and find a political solution. The prime responsibility for starting such a dialogue lies with President Janukovych", said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

Support for Ukraine's reform process

Ministers reiterated that any lasting solution to the political crisis in Ukraine must include constitutional reform, the formation of a new inclusive government and the creation of conditions for democratic elections. In this regard, the EU remains ready to support Ukraine in the process of reform so as to deliver a stable and democratic future for its citizens.

In addition, ministers stressed that the offer of political association and economic integration remains on the table and that the Association Agreement does not constitute the final goal of EU-Ukraine cooperation.

Finally, the Council reiterated its commitment to enhancing people-to-people contacts between the EU and Ukraine. It encouraged member states to make optimal use of the Visa Facilitation Agreement provisions and the flexibility offered by the Visa Code

Press conference

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