Ukraine needs to step up reforms and find an acceptable solution to the fate of jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko before striking a ground-breaking deal with the EU, ministers warned Monday, eubusiness.com reports.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg just weeks before the scheduled signing of an historic accord late November which would set Ukraine on the path to membership of the bloc, said Kiev had not fulfilled all the conditions set for the deal.
Moves by Ukraine to allow Tymoshenko — who was jailed in 2011 for seven years on hugely controversial abuse of power charges — to go abroad for medical treatment, most likely to Germany, might not be enough.
“This is not just about one person,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
“There are important reforms and important progress has been made,” he said. “But we do want to see further progress on selective justice and electoral reform and judicial reform.
“What happens with Tymoshenko is one of the subjects within that,” he added.
Her release is seen as a key condition for Ukraine to sign a free trade Association Agreement — a first step towards integration into the EU, which has infuriated Russia.
But Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on going into the Luxembourg talks that agreeing to send the former firebrand premier to Germany for treatment without some sort of pardon might not be enough.
“That opens up the question of what happens thereafter. Will you then demand that she’s extradited and goes back to prison in Ukraine?” he asked.
Asked whether a partial pardon on some charges would suffice, Bildt referred to a pending decision by two envoys from the European Parliament, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox.
He pressed Ukraine to decide quickly however, saying: “They should already have made up their minds.”
Germany’s powerful Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle too urged Ukraine to step up rule of law and rights reforms in line with EU demands.
“We are ready to sign,” he said. “But for this the last works have to be done, the last reforms need to be done, especially if it’s about democracy and rule of law and the end of selective justice.”
“We have a timetable. and this timetable shows that nobody should take too much time.”