Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Moment of truth for EU-Ukraine treaty

  • Tymoshenko during her trial in 2011. German doctors say she needs surgery for chronic back pain (Photo: Ridge Consulting)

The lawyer of Ukraine's jailed former PM, Yulia Tymoshenko, has said nothing stands in the way of a historic EU treaty except President Viktor Yanukovych's say-so.

Tymoshenko's counsel spoke to EUobserver on Sunday (6 October) following a dramatic development.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Last week, envoys from the European Parliament met with Yanukovych in Kiev to hand him Tymoshenko's written agreement to leave Ukraine to seek medical treatment in Germany.

If he pardons her so she can go, EU leaders have all but promised to sign a political association and free trade pact with him at a summit in Vilnius in November.

They have also said the trade bit can enter into life before it is ratified by EU states, opening EU markets to Ukraine's energy, metals and pharmaceuticals oligarchs.

Tymoshenko's lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, said the pardon does not ask for much.

It would free her from a seven year jail sentence for "abuse of office" while PM. But it does not ask for full rehabilitation, meaning she could not run against him in upcoming elections.

It says nothing on her $190 million fine. It also says nothing on three other, ongoing, Tymoshenko prosecutions: on a contract murder; on tax evasion; and on embezzlement.

If there is no pardon, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is anyway expected to overturn the abuse of office verdict by March next year.

Yanukovych has kept quiet so far.

But, on Friday, he demoted Renat Kuzmin, a prosecutor who led the legal onslaught on Tymoshenko.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the President is to meet counterparts from Germany, Italy and Poland in the Polish city of Krakow, giving him a golden opportunity to take the pro-EU step.

Vlasenko warned not to read too much into the Kuzmin move, however.

"It means nothing in itself. Tomorrow, he could appoint a Muzmin or a Shmuzmin to do the same job," he told this website.

In a negative sign, two Yanukovych spokespersons, MPs Inna Bohoslovska and Volodymyr Oliynyk, on a Ukrainian TV show on Friday said Yanukovych does not have the legal power to simply free her.

But Vlasenko said he does.

"He can do it under article 106, paragraph 27, of the Ukrainian constitution … He can take a piece of paper, take a pen from his pocket, write 'I hereby pardon, and so on,' and it is done," the lawyer noted.

He said Yanukovych did precisely this for a Tymoshenko ex-minister in April.

Vlasenko predicted Yanukovych will hide behind a state committee on pardons to delay his decision. But he said the committee's power is purely consultative: "They can say 'No,' and he can say 'Yes,' or vice versa. He doesn't even have to ask them."

The Vilnius treaty is a turning point in Ukraine's history.

If Yanukovych says Yes, Ukraine will, slowly, become more like EU countries with a chance, but no promise, to one day join the Union.

If he says No, it will most likely be pulled into Russia's Customs Union, auguring decades of Russian domination and lack of rule of law.

But some EU diplomats say Yanukovych favours a third option - the status quo, or, keeping Ukraine out of the EU and the Russian spheres as his own fiefdom.

For his part, Yanukovych Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, noted on Saturday that even if the President says Yes, it does not mean Yes.

"By signing the association agreement with the European Union, Ukraine will not lose its sovereignty and the right to make independent decisions … If Ukraine later concludes that it is possible to participate … in the Customs Union, the decision will be taken via a referendum," he told the Interfax news agency.

Opinion

Ukraine's Crimean Tatars need EU attention

Mention Ukraine, and everybody thinks of the Vilnius summit. But Ukraine has other issues to deal with, such as the fate of the Crimean Tatars.

Opinion

The EU-Ukraine tango on gay rights

If Ukraine does not pass a key anti-discrimination rights bill before the Vilnius summit, the chances of it coming into law afterward are slim.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  2. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  3. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  4. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  5. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  6. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  7. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  8. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us