It is now or never for Ukraine, as the date looms for Ukraine to present itself in Vilnius at the 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in anticipation of initialing the Association Agreement, which would draw this former Soviet Republic one step closer to a Western future with fellow Europeans.
Before this happens, though, one of several pre-conditions put forward by former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox has to happen: the release of now two-year jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko was charged in May 2011 with abuse of office, and in October of that year a Kiev court found her guilty and sentenced her to seven years in jail. The trial against Tymoshenko has been rated as “selective justice” by the EU, the USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia, say Transparency International and other organizations.
Word coming out of Kiev and Brussels today has it that she will soon be headed to Germany for “medical treatment” following her release from prison, thus helping pave the way for a Ukraine visit to Vilnius come Nov. 28-29.
The European Court for Human Rights said in its April 30 judgment that Tymoshenko’s arrest in the case concerning the 2009 gas supply contract had been politically motivated and her rights had been violated. And on Sept. 5 the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published a report giving official proof that physical force has been used against Tymoshenko.
It was on Oct. 4 that Cox and Kwasniewski announced that Tymoshenko accepted a proposal to travel to Germany for medical treatment. They have pressed President Yanukovich to release her from prison.
Kiev’s Interfax-Ukraine reports that Deputy of the European Parliament, Vice President of the European People’s Party Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, has stated that the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU would not be initialed if Tymoshenko is not released from prison by the end of October.
On Oct. 9, the Ukrainian opposition faction presented a letter to President Yanukovich, signed by 170 deputies urging him as head of state to pardon the former prime minister.
The politics in the Tymoshenko case represent the government’s attempt to put behind the entire affair and move forward on a new path.
However, Ukraine has trod a long road already in hopes of any eventual EU membership consideration. In February, this year, Stefan Fule, commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy reiterated three conditions for the signing of any documents in Vilnius. These are: continued judicial reform, approval of the new Election Code by the Parliament, and the resolution of the Tymoshenko issue.
Progress is still underway on all three, as Ukraine prepares for the Summit.
For President Yanukovich, these final weeks will determine the fate of 46,000,000 Ukrainians’ future in their relationship with, and integration with Western Europe, and a possible snub to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his hopes for a Ukraine in the Eurasia Customs Union.