December 14, 2014 / 9:48 PM / in 3 years

Paris, Berlin urge Poroshenko to press ahead with reforms

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande urged Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko on Sunday to press ahead with reforms to facilitate an economic recovery and access to foreign aid.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko looks on as he speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-Asia Fullerton Lecture at a hotel in Singapore in this December 9, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement the two leaders encouraged Poroshenko in a telephone call “to get the planned sweeping reforms under way.”

“Only that way can the economy recover and the necessary international financial help be advanced,” he said.

Ukraine’s parliament last week approved the new government’s economic program of tough reforms aimed at securing billions of dollars in financial aid from the International Monetary Fund and other backers.

The program, outlined by Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, includes overhauling the tax system, raising energy tariffs and privatizing state firms in a bid to root out corruption that has helped push Ukraine to the brink of bankruptcy.

Poroshenko told Merkel and Hollande that there had been no fatalities in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since a ceasefire agreed last week, although the terms of the ceasefire had been violated, said Seibert.

All three leaders insisted that the original ceasefire deal agreed in Minsk in September remained the only way forwards for a lasting solution to the crisis in Ukraine, he said.

Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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