UK's Hague says Ukraine must show determination to tackle graft

by Reuters
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 23:32 GMT

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Ukraine's new leadership will need to show it is willing to tackle reforms and pervasive corruption in exchange for long-term support from the international community, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday.

Hague was speaking after talks with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, in a hastily arranged trip to Washington to discuss events in Ukraine where the parliament ousted president Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday and handed the reins to acting president Oleksander Turchinov.

Hague said he and Kerry discussed urgent financial help for Ukraine, whose economy has been hit by months of street protests and violence. He said he will meet officials from the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday.

But he also made clear that to qualify for international assistance, Ukraine needed to meet conditions for an IMF lending program and show a determination to tackle a "pervasive culture of corruption over many years."

"It is important for economic reform to take place and for a pervasive culture of corruption over many year to be tackled effectively for international community to be able to see that there will be continuity and determination to tackle these issues, and therefore long-term international support can be given on a reasonable basis," Hague told reporters.

U.S. and European officials have said that Ukraine should seek an IMF program to address its economic crisis and IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she would dispatch an IMF technical team to Kiev.

The team will assess the impact of the crisis on the economy to update an IMF review last conducted in October before street violence erupted on the streets of Kiev.

Hague urged Ukraine's new leaders to form an inclusive government that can encourage political consensus and work with both the West and with Russia.

"In the U.S. and UK, we don't see this in a zero-sum strategic sense. It is very important for Ukraine to be able to work closely with European nations, the European Union on economic cooperation, but also to be able to cooperate with Russia on many issues," Hague said.

Asked about fears that Ukraine might split between pro-Western and pro-Russian regions after calls by residents in mainly Russian-speaking Crimea to secede from Ukraine, Hague said: "The independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine is extremely important."

"This is why all of us who are giving our best advice to the authorities of Ukraine are saying form an inclusive government, involve people ... it is important for Ukrainians to make these decisions together."

In her daily briefing, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also said it was important for Ukraine to remain unified.

"We think the most productive and best path forward is for Ukraine to remain unified and whole and that's something we have conveyed broadly," she said.

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