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The European Union welcomes the fact that the Ukrainian government is taking corruption allegations against high-ranking officials seriously, Ana Pisonero, a representative of the European Commission, said on Jan. 24, following the most significant governmental reshuffle in Ukraine since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion.
“We have taken into account reports that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating these cases. You know, the general rule is that we do not comment on ongoing investigations, but we welcome the fact that the Ukrainian authorities are taking this seriously,” Pisonero said.
At the same time, she said, as part of the EU membership process, Ukraine is expected to further strengthen its fight against corruption, particularly at a high level.
Pisonero noted that Ukraine has already taken several measures in the field of anti-corruption, including the appointment of the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and the initiation of the process for selecting a new chief of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
“Of course, there will be small further actions to strengthen anti-corruption institutions,” Pisonero said.
Earlier on Jan. 24, the Cabinet of Ministers dismissed six government officials and greenlighted the firing of five governors. The reshuffle came after a series of journalist investigations alleged misappropriation of funds among several top officials.
The European Commission will assess Ukraine’s progress on the reforms toward membership in the EU in the fall of 2023. In June, Ukraine was granted candidate status.
Membership in the EU has long been a key aspiration for Ukraine, which is reflected in the Ukrainian Constitution among the main goals.
In September, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine has the ambition to become a full-fledged member of the EU in two years.
To achieve that goal, the country must fulfill European Commission conditions on issues related to justice, the rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts and then proceed with the negotiation process regarding EU membership.