Most factions of the European Parliament were in favor of continuing negotiations with Ukraine on the association agreement, but proposed to refrain from signing the agreement unless the situation in Ukraine changes. This was the stance of most groups in the assembly during the debate on the situation in Ukraine. In particular, a member of Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc’s ally in this legislative body, the European People’s Party, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski said the sentence imposed on Tymoshenko deserved condemnation. “This trial was politically motivated and failed to meet even the minimum European standards. Should the Ukrainian leadership continue its sabotage campaign against political opposition, it will put the European prospects of Ukraine at risk,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
The representative was convinced that she should be released and “enjoy her full political rights immediately.” However, Saryusz-Wolski expressed his support for completing the negotiations on the association agreement. “The negotiations must be completed and the document adopted as planned, at the end of the year. After all, we can refuse to sign and ratify it later unless the situation in Ukraine changes,” the MEP said. “Ukraine must understand what it may lose, but even more importantly, the EU must send a positive signal to Ukrainians with European aspirations,” he concluded.
A similar stance was taken by a member of the Democrats and Socialists group that is political ally of Ukraine’s Party of Regions. “Our group supports Ukraine on its path towards the EU, and we want this movement to continue. We must continue to negotiate, but we also want to send a very important signal to the government in Kyiv: do not ignore the values and conditions that are important to us and which will allow Ukraine and the EU to move to a higher level of development,” MEP Hanne Swoboda said.
Other members expressed similar views, calling for continuing the negotiations but delaying signing of the agreement until Ukraine starts to respect the European values. Some members raised concerns with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s coming visit to Brussels. “Should nothing be done to restore the rule of law during the next week, Barroso (President of the European Commission) is to decide whether he has anything to talk about with Yanukovych,” MEP Michael Galer stated.
Socialist MEP Marek Siwiec disagreed. “We have no right to close the doors to Ukraine. We must meet with Yanukovych in Brussels and tell him what we think about the current situation. If the agreement is rejected, the biggest winner in this situation will be the Russians, who are against this process, the Kremlin that is invisibly present at our negotiations,” he said.
EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton said in a statement: “Tymoshenko’s prosecution is politically motivated. The verdict came after a trial which did not respect the international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal process. Unfortunately, this case is far from being unique in Ukraine. It is especially disappointing for a country that currently holds the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and declares its commitment to our fundamental values.” Ashton believes that Tymoshenko’s actions while prime minister must be judged by voters at the polls, not in court. “These principles are the cornerstone of democracy,” Ashton stressed.
TO THE POINT
Yanukovych hopes that the retrial of Tymoshenko will be held under the amended criminal law President of Ukraine hopes that the court of appeals hearing in the case of former prime minister Tymoshenko will be held under the amended criminal law. According to UNIAN, the head of state said so at a briefing in Khmelnytsky region. Speaking of political statements about the Tymoshenko case, Yanukovych expressed his belief that had such a situation happened in any other country, even the most democratic one, “nobody would have said anything, they all would keep their mouths shut tightly.” At the same time, Ukraine gets criticized for even the minutest faults, “as if examined under a microscope,” according to Yanukovych. The president once again noted that he personally did not like the developments in the Tymoshenko case. He added at the same time that the parliament would soon amend criminal law, and said also that Tymoshenko would receive another hearing in the court of appeals. “Should the relevant laws be amended by the time of the retrial, the court will take this in account,” Yanukovych said. “The court will follow the laws in force on The Day of hearing,” the president added.