Saturday

20th Aug 2022

EU-Ukraine meeting increasingly unlikely

  • Sign at the Chernobyl site in Ukraine. The danger is growing that EU-Ukraine relations will suffer a major upset this week (Photo: Ratcliff, Trey)

The Ukrainian government has said there is no chance former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko will go free before a planned visit to Brussels by President Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday (20 October).

MPs will on Tuesday debate proposed amendments to Ukrainian law that would decriminalise the Tymoshenko charges and let her walk. The proposal comes amid an EU outcry that Yanukovych fixed the trial to harm his rival and amid repeated warnings that relations will be put on hold if he does not make amends.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking to EUobserver from Kiev on Tuesday, a senior aide to Yanukovych, Anna Herman, said not to expect any decisions in the coming days because there is no consensus among ruling coalition MPs.

"I hope some way out will be sought for and found out of the situation but at this point in time I would say we do not have a joint position on the way out," she said.

"There are various moods and various opinions among the ruling majority MPs. First, the authorities have to establish a dialogue with the opposition. Such a dialogue does not exist today. Instead we have an increasingly sharpening tone from the minority party MPs."

For his part, President Yanukovych took a defiant line at a late-night briefing on Monday with foreign correspondents in Kiev.

"All points of view have a right to exist and to be respected. We would like to be treated that way as well, because often we have the sense that others simply don't want to listen to what we have to say," he said on the EU's rejection of his word that the Tymoshenko trial was free and fair.

He noted he will fly out on Thursday in any case for meetings in Latin America, but that he would be happy to skip the planned talks in Brussels if the EU un-invites him.

"The Europeans have not confirmed the meeting, but I will leave on Thursday in any case, to fly in that direction ... I am not going begging from anyone. If there is a need to meet, I am ready. If not, I will fly further."

Asked by this website if Yanukovych would be content to visit Brussels to talk about Tymoshenko instead of the original agenda on details of an EU trade and association pact, Anna Herman added: "Today, we have to talk about and think about Ukraine, about the people who live here and who have made their European choice."

With Yanukovych set to hold talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine about strategic energy issues on Tuesday, the risk is growing that Moscow will strike a last-minute deal with Kiev and derail its EU integration plans.

"Brussels has a real dilemma. But the problem is [unless he frees Tymoshenko] we have nothing to talk about," an EU diplomat said, referring to the Thursday meeting.

Ukraine ignores EU outcry, opens second case against Tymoshenko

Ukraine has filed a second case against former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko that could see her jailed for 12 years and fined $405 million, despite an EU outcry against her earlier sentence this week for seven years and $188 million.

Ukraine signals readiness to finalise EU pact

Ukraine's EU ambassador has hinted that Kiev is ready to sign a far-reaching pact with the union even if it makes no more concessions on the economy or pro-enlargement wording.

No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks

Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo's prime minster Albin Kurti met in Brussels with the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, in the hopes of finding a solution the recent spike in tensions between the two sides.

Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Russian citizens were circumventing the European airspace ban by driving to Helsinki airport, which was being used as a hub to fly to other tourist destinations. Finland is now restricting those border crossings.

Opinion

Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?

The former Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have retained close ties with Russia since 1989. Yet this consensus may be shifting. At the UN, none of them supported Russia in the resolution condemning the Ukraine invasion.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us