Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission