Saturday

27th Aug 2016

Ukraine rivals take battle to EU arena

Ukraine's rival political leaders took their battle for control of Kiev to Brussels and Strasbourg on Tuesday (17 April), with the European Commission suggesting a solution might come from outside Ukraine's constitutional court amidst a continued risk of violence.

"This is what the usurpation of power is about," Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko said in the EU capital, accusing his rival, prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, of "political corruption" in enticing individual pro-Yushchenko MPs to defect to pro-Yanukovych factions in Ukraine's parliament.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Mr Yushchenko (l) promised Mr Barroso (r) he will not use the army (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

"This road leads to reversing the results of the elections that took place last year...The reasonable pre-requisite for resolving the crisis situation is an early election," Mr Yushchenko added, after recently ordering parliament to disband and calling snap parliamentary elections for 27 May.

Speaking the same day at the Strasbourg headquarters of the Council of Europe - a 46-member state human rights and democracy watchdog - prime minister Yanukovych said the call for May elections could "have negative consequences for president Yushchenko, including impeachment," Russian newswires report.

The meetings took place amid a tense background in Kiev, where Ukraine's constitutional court the same day declined to issue a verdict on the legality of president Yushchenko's early elections move, putting off the decision until 27 April at the latest.

Kiev streets have seen rival activists hold mass protests in recent weeks amid a heavy security presence, with Mr Yushchenko's side depicting themselves as guardians of the pro-west Orange Revolution movement and Mr Yanukovych's more Russia-friendly camp accusing the president of trying to stage a coup d'etat.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels underlined the importance of stability and a negotiated solution but warned the crisis will delay talks on a new EU-Ukraine bilateral treaty. "A country with stability can deliver much better results than a country with no stability," he said.

"Solutions have to be found in full respect of the constitution and the law. But democracy always gives us the flexibility to find a compromise if there is goodwill," he added, after five out of 18 judges from Ukraine's constitutional court last week demanded bodyguards citing threats.

For his part, Council of Europe head Rene Van der Linden said "We categorically reject the division of the Ukrainian leaders into pro-eastern and pro-western. The most important thing for them is to be elected as a result of free and democratic elections, and be vested with powers based on law."

Peace promised, army mentioned

Mr Yushchenko in Brussels promised Mr Barroso he will not use his security forces to disband parliament. But the Ukrainian president's repeated mentions that a military solution to the crisis is out of the question served to highlight the worst case scenario.

"[There are] two words I never use - 'risk' and 'violence'," Mr Barroso told press after relating Mr Yushchenko's promise. "What I mean is there's a political crisis, a serious political crisis, let's face facts."

Meanwhile, Ukrainian diplomacy abroad has been put in a tough spot: on one hand the foreign ministry is a presidential competency in Ukraine. But on the other hand it is the Yanukovych-dominated government that signs off diplomatic salary slips.

With journalists in Brussels on Tuesday given a Ukrainian press release printed on orange paper - the colour of the pro-Yushchenko camp - one Ukrainian official was asked which side Ukraine's EU embassy is on. "Don't ask me that, I am a diplomat," the Ukrainian contact said.

Slovakia's Fico goes to Russia

The Slovak prime minister, whose country currently chairs the EU council, will meet the Russian leader ahead of upcoming EU talks on Russia policy.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey