Germany, France press Kiev on graft, vote in rebel east

epa05176251 Ukainian Foreign Ministers Pavlo Klimkin (C-R) German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (C) and French Foreign Minjster Jean-Marc Ayrault (C-L) arrive for a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, 23 February 2016. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his new French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault arrived to Kiev as part of a European bid to help ease the political crisis in Ukraine. The two ministers plan to hold meetings with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other Ukrainian officials.  EPA/KAY NIETFELD

Kiev / AFP

Germany and France on Tuesday urged Kiev to root out corruption and quickly adopt a law on elections in the pro-Russian east that may help resolve Ukraine’s separatist war.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Kiev amid political chaos that has seen ministers in the pro-EU government trade accusations of influence peddling and graft.
The ruling coalition has also been breaking at the seams since Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk won a no-confidence vote last Tuesday that came only hours after President Petro Poroshenko urged his government leader to step down.
The tumult has sparked worry among its Western allies that the government may be on the verge of failing to follow through on the hopes of Ukrainians whose protests brought down the country’s Russian-backed leadership in February 2014.
Adding to EU concerns are continued clashes among Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow insurgents that Kiev and the West accuse Russia of backing a charge the Kremlin denies.
“We arrived in Ukraine during a storm. There is much unrest,” Steinmeier admitted during a joint press conference with Ayrault and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
Yet both he and Ayrault insisted that Ukrainian leaders must put aside their squabbles if they wanted to put the country on the path to sustainable and peaceful growth.
“We need for the economic reforms to be pushed forward,” said Steinmeier.
“But it is essential that this policy is based on a principle of zero tolerance for corruption,” he stressed.
The French foreign minister said the European Union “will continue to support your country”.
“However, to be clear, we need for (Ukraine’s) policies to be determined, credible and sustainable,” Ayrault said.
Berlin and Paris have been spearheading Western efforts to end a 22-month revolt that has claimed more than 9,000 lives in the European Union’s backyard.
But a peace plan signed one year ago that was meant to find a permanent solution by the end of 2015 has expired with few of its commitments met.

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