(Assembly Coucil of Europe) - PACE President RenР№ van der Linden yesterday concluded a working visit to the port of Odessa in southern Ukraine. During his visit, he held discussions with the new Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, O. Moroz, the head of the Oblast Council, M. Skoryk and the Mayor of Odessa, E. Gurvits.
The main topic of these discussions was the need to secure and further develop Ukraine's progress in the fields of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Particular attention was paid to the importance of appointing a strong and stable national government, committed to promptly and fully implementing Ukraine's obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe; and to effectively upholding the rule of law, including through full cooperation with the EU Border Assistance Mission, responsible for supporting national controls along the border between Ukraine and Moldova, and effective investigation of crimes committed under former regimes, notably the Gongadze case. President van der Linden emphasised that effective border controls and an impartial judicial system were also essential to fighting against organised crime and, relatedly, to attracting foreign investment, reports Trend.
In the context of Odessa city and oblast, the President also stressed the need to strengthen local and regional government, thus reinforcing democracy and helping to create an environment conducive to investment and trade.
For both Odessa and Ukraine as a whole, the President underlined the importance of continuing along the road towards European integration, whilst also maintaining friendly and constructive relations with neighbouring Russia, without whom there would be no solution to the region's frozen conflicts.
Mr van der Linden also met the Metropolitan Agafangel of Odesa and Ismail, with whom he discussed issues relating to inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue in the Odessa region, and visited "Doroga dodomu," an NGO working with severely disadvantaged street children.