NP-UN National Affairs Desk.
The historic signing of a “Joint Statement of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group & Ukraine-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group” highlighted a visit by an all-party delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to Ottawa June 11-12.
This agreement lays the foundations for strengthening bilateral relations between the respective parliaments of the two countries.
“Since 2015, our ‘special’ and ‘strategic’ relationship has been deepened by our Government with the signing of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement, the security assistance provided through the Canadian Armed Forces Operation UNIFIER, and Canada’s participation in NATO’s Operation REASSURANCE, and the two groups pledged to continue to promote broader Canada-Ukraine bilateral relations in all possible fields,” stated Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group (CUPFG) Chair Borys Wrzesnewskyj.
This was the first official visit by members of the newly created Ukraine-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group (UCPFG), who are led by First Vice-Speaker Iryna Gerashchenko of the governing Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the Co-Chair of the UCPFG, Ivan Krulko, of the opposition Batkivshchyna Party.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko told NP – UN meetings held during the visit focussed on political support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian delegation thanked Canada for the strong stand it took at the recent G7 summit opposing the return of Russia into a G8.
The delegation also gave Canada a list of Russian human rights violators which could be sanctioned under the new Magnitsky Act and said they are willing to share information regarding Russia hybrid war.
“When we will discuss the future of Operation Unifier after March 2019, then we can look at ways to make this even more beneficial to Canada and Ukraine.”
The parties discussed how Canadian money helps Ukraine and how to work together to improve reforms in Ukraine.
They also discussed ways to support the Ukrainian community in Canada and the implementation of visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens.
Shevchenko also said this visit reflects that fact that there is a consensus in both countries as to the special relationship between Canada and Ukraine.
“In Ukrainian politics, Canada is accepted as a partner, as a country that shares the same values and it seems to me that this visit enshrined the formalization of the ties that exists between Ukraine and Canada and between the Ukrainian and Canadian political class,” the Ambassador said.
Members of the CUPFG and the UCPFG and other Canadian parliamentarians also celebrated International Vyshyvanka Day by unfurling a banner in front of the Peace Tower, calling for the release of Oleg Sentsov and raising awareness of Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.
The members of the UCPFG also participated in meetings with the House of Commons Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs and International Development, National Defence and Industry, Science and Technology, and with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
During their meeting with the Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, the Minister noted that Canada stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and underscored the importance of assisting Ukraine in its long-term military defence capacity building and NATO integration. During the meeting with the Ahmed D. Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister affirmed the Government’s unwavering support for Ukraine and discussed ways to increase and better facilitate travel between the two countries, particularly for youth. Hussen also confirmed his commitment to work with Ukraine on a new Youth Mobility Agreement.
The visit concluded with the hosting by the Embassy of Ukraine, the two Friendship Groups and the national office of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, of the premiere screening of “Cyborgs – Heroes Never Die” at the Canadian Museum of History.