BRUSSELS: The European Union is deploying dozens of experts to Ukraine to help reform police forces and bolster the new West-leaning government’s commitment to the rule of law, EU officials said Wednesday.
They said fighting corruption and human rights abuses in the civilian security forces was “at the core of the revolution” that toppled the Russian-leaning government in February.
The officials said some of an initial group of 57 EU professionals from Sweden, Britain, Germany, Luxembourg and Baltic countries had arrived in Ukraine.
“We haven’t yet reached the initial operational capacity. It will come in a few weeks,” an EU official said on condition of anonymity.
Another official who also asked not to be named added that the mission was still recruiting professionals, along with support staff.
Officials have already visited the capital Kiev, the city of Kharkiv in the east and Odessa in the south.
The EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform Ukraine was launched in July with a two-year mandate to help the authorities carry out reforms in the police, the interior ministry and border guards.
It came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attended a Brussels summit in late June to sign a long-delayed association agreement with the EU, the very deal that was fiercely resisted by Moscow and helped sparked the crisis in Ukraine.
The advisors will help tackle the problems of overlapping mandates in the security forces, a “very deep-seated culture of corruption” and “disrespect” of human rights.
He said boosting salaries was key to reducing the temptation of police officers accepting bribes.
“It is absolutely important to reform the salary structure,” an official said.
The officials acknowledged the task of reforming the civilian security sector was difficult because of the level of corruption in the country and because attention is focused on the war with Russian-backed rebels in the east.
“It is a country in an extremely difficult historial moment with a lethal threat,” one official said.