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13th Aug 2022

Pole and Irishman to head EU taskforce to Ukraine

  • Kwasniewski, a former Communist, was president of Poland in the late 1990s (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Former Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski and Irish politician Pat Cox are to keep an eye on Yulia Tymoshenko's appeal in a bid to repair EU-Ukraine relations.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz named the two men on Wednesday (6 June) after agreeing the monitoring deal with Ukraine in May.

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He said they will have "full access to all documents relevant to the case as well as lawyers, prosecutors and other officials involved" and "comprehensive legal and logistical assistance" from the EU parliament.

"I hope it will contribute to restoring mutual confidence in EU-Ukraine relations," he added.

The monitors are due in Brussels on Thursday and in Kiev next week to meet with Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and with Tymoshenko's family.

Tymoshenko was jailed last year for alleged abuse of office while prime minister. But EU institutions say the trial was flawed and that President Viktor Yanukovych is practicing "selective justice" against political enemies.

Her appeal is due to be heard on 26 June.

Kwasniewski, a former Communist, was president of Poland in the late 1990s.

He is a fluent Russian speaker and has good relations with Ukrainian VIPs such as former president Leonid Kuchma and foreign minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko.

Gryshchenko - who was present at round table talks during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine - credited Kwasniewski with a big role in the final deal. He told EUobserver that at one point Kwasniewski took Kuchma aside and said to him: "Leonid, Leonid. There is life after the presidency. Just look at me."

Cox, who was EU parliament president in 2002, is known in eastern Europe as a big supporter of EU enlargement.

The Schulz plan originally involved also sending EU-parliament-nominated doctors to look after Tymoshenko's health.

The medical monitoring plan has been put aside because Tymoshenko already has a German medic by her side, however.

"It could lead to confusion and disinformation by the Ukrainian authorities. It might give them the chance to falsify information and confuse people," her daughter Eugenia Tymoshenko told this website last month.

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Nothing short of EU sanctions, a revolution or a miracle election win sill see Tymoshenko get out of jail, writes Neil Pattie.

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