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Monday, April 6, 2015

Ukraine: Constitutional Commission holds its first session



Volodymyr Groisman, Petro Poroshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk
during the first session of the Constitutional Commission
(Image: The Guardian)
Ukrainian Constitutional Commission aimed to amend Ukrainian Constitution in the framework of the Constitutional reform, announced earlier, has held its first session on Monday, 6 April. The newly formed Constitutional Commission consists of law experts, politicians, civil activists and representatives of civil society in order to make the process of amendment of Constitution open, according to the official statements.


Amendment of Ukrainian Constitution is being made also in accordance with the terms of Minsk Agreement of 2014, as Ukraine works on granting more rights and powers to the regions and to impose decentralization of government.



Among the main changes expected to be made in Ukrainian Constitution is territorial and administrative status of the state. It is expected that the current system of regions will be replaced with another model, uniting several regions and making the city in the center. The officials are talking about the Polish model with its provinces as an example model for the new status of Ukrainian territories.


Meanwhile, Ukraine will remain a sovereign and unitary state, according to the official statement of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and statements of other Ukrainian leaders, including Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Parliament’s Speaker and Head of Constitutional Commission Volodymyr Groisman. Amendments of Constitution are aimed to increase decentralization, giving more powers and responsibilities for the regions and enabling them to resolve the local issues on their own, while the general policies including foreign policies of the state will remain on the central level. Thus, there is no possibility of federalization in Ukraine, as Russia demands, stated Ukrainian officials.


In addition to that Ukraine will remain parliamentary-presidential republic, and amendments of the Constitution are also aimed to preserve power balance in the state and include all the political powers and factions including opposition in the process of decision making.


Regarding the language issue, which is traditionally a painful and controversial one in Ukraine, Ukrainian language will remain the only one official state language, declared Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, while Russian language, Crimean Tatar languages and other languages used by Ukrainian citizens and minorities will be granted special status as well. 


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared also in his statement dedicated to the opening of a session of the Constitutional Commission that he is ready for the broad dialogue and discussion with Ukrainian citizens regarding all the important amendments of Constitution. He also emphasized that federalization of Ukraine is impossible as nearly 90% of Ukrainians are against it. Meanwhile, he is ready to initiate National Referendum regarding this issue. 


Petro Poroshenko also stated that he hopes that all the political powers, groups and factions in Ukraine, including the opposition and the former members of Party of Regions, main political power of ousted President Victor Yanukovich, will also participate in the process of amending the Constitution. 


Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavror stated that official Ukraine has to consult and negotiate with the representative of the so called Donetsk and Luhanks People Republics while amending the Constitution. Mr. Lavror stated it during his official press-conference held in Moscow. He also claimed that the terms of Minsk Agreement included participation of the DNR and LNR representatives in the process of amending Constitution and that federalization was also on the table. 


Though, Ukrainian officials reacted strong and harsh on Russian demands. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yantsenyuk stated during his speech at the opening session of the Constitutional Commission that Ukrainian people and authorities, representing the citizens’ will, shall be responsible for amending the Constitution and Russia or any other country cannot dictate its special conditions and demands of specific changes on Ukrainian Constitution. 


Volodymyr Grosman, Speaker of Ukrainian Parliament and Head of a recently formed Constitutional Commission, stated during his official speech on Monday, 6 April, that the Commission consists of the professional groups, responsible for their sectors of amendments. Work of the Commission is expected to be in stages, amending every chapter and part of the Constitution and inviting people to the broad discussion. Mr. Groisman also stated about importance of power balance and removing reasons for conflicts and said that the newly amended Constitution will enable imposing new reforms in Ukraine. 


The first session of the Constitutional Commission held on Monday, 6 April, has discussed some general issues and formed also a plan and a road map of the process of amendment the Constitution. The next sessions are expected to be held later this week.