Hopes fade for Ukraine free trade EU deal

  • 2013-11-14
  • From wire reports and TBT staff, RIGA

EU officials say they have given up hope Ukraine will sign a major association agreement  at the Vilnius summit later this month, reports euobserver.com. 

The rupture comes after Ukrainian authorities on Monday, Nov. 11 charged Serhiy Vlasenko, the lawyer of jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, with domestic violence in a case which could see him also jailed for three years.

European Union officials have told Ukraine it will only be able to sign an association agreement at the Vilnius summit on Nov. 28-29 if it releases Tymoshenko.

The former PM was jailed in 2011 over claims she committed abuses of office. EU officials say the charges were politically motivated. So far, Ukrainian officials have refused to pardon Tymoshenko.

On Nov. 14, Ukrainian officials refused to allow Tymoshenko to travel to Germany for medical support, shedding more doubts over whether an association agreement will be signed, reports Reuters.  

Two EU envoys also travelled to Kiev  this week to hold talks with deputies in the country. They're set to travel again to Kiev in the hope that Ukraine could make a last minute turn around. 

Lithuanian foreign minister, Lina Linkevicius welcomed the talks. Posting on twitter, he said: "Important that Cox-Kwasniewski mission returns to Kiev. But has to make final steps. Time to act."

Latvian foreign minister, mirrored the views. He tweeted: "After today's interesting session of Ukrainian Parliament, the outcome of EU Eastern partnership Vilnius summit now depends on Kyiv."

Others are not so confident. Jakib Parusinski, CEO of the Kyiv Post newspaper said: " parliament session in closed, to reconvene after EU ministers meet on 18th. Game over, no deal at Vilnius to be signed."

Ukraines fading chances may be good news for Russia who have pressured them not to sign the agreement.  Ukraine relies heavily on Russian gas imports.