News / Europe

EU Urges Yanukovych to Save Ukraine Trade Pact

An Interior Ministry officer walks past a board displaying a portrait of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko at a protest tent camp set up by her supporters in central Kyiv, Nov. 18, 2013.
An Interior Ministry officer walks past a board displaying a portrait of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko at a protest tent camp set up by her supporters in central Kyiv, Nov. 18, 2013.
Reuters
The European Union urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday to intervene personally to end a stand-off over jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko that is threatening to derail a EU-Ukraine trade deal.

With less than two weeks to go before the trade agreement is due to be signed at a summit in Lithuanian capital Vilnius, EU foreign ministers made clear Ukraine had not yet done enough to meet conditions the bloc has laid down.

The fundamental sticking point is over former prime minister Tymoshenko, a fierce opponent of Yanukovych who was jailed in 2011 for seven years for abuse of office. Western governments have described the trial as politically motivated.

EU governments see Tymoshenko's case as symbolic of “selective justice” in Ukraine and want her to be allowed to travel to Germany to be treated for a chronic back ailment. There had also been a push by some EU governments for her to receive a pardon, but Yanukovych is not comfortable with that.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he wanted Ukraine to look towards Europe and benefit from closer trade ties with the EU, but it also had to meet basic requirements.

“I urgently recommend Ukraine to act ... and not play for time. Time is running out,” he told reporters as he arrived for an EU meeting that was due to discuss Ukraine.

Berlin's offer to allow Tymoshenko to come to Germany for medical treatment remained on the table, he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, held out the prospects of financial incentives if Ukraine meets EU demands.

“I will push in Vilnius for the EU to counteract this pressure with concrete opportunities and real solidarity,” Merkel said .

“This could be done by offering additional sales possibilities for products of our partner that cannot be exported to Russia, or through help in broadening its supplies of energy,” she said.

Historic shift

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose country holds the EU presidency, said that for the agreement to be signed Ukraine must enact reforms on elections and the public prosecutor's office and resolve the Tymoshenko question.

“If this is not done, it will not be possible to sign the agreement,” she told reporters in Vilnius.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said Yanukovich had the power to make or break the agreement.

“We all know that President Yanukovych has it in his power to find a solution,” Spindelegger said, adding that he would try to persuade Yanukovych to reach a compromise when he meets him in Vienna on Thursday.

Signing a trade and cooperation deal with the 28-nation EU would mark an historic westwards shift for Ukraine, moving the  former Soviet republic away from Russian influence.

Failure to sign would be a setback for the EU's policy of engagement with ex-Soviet states and for Yanukovych, who has made integration with Europe his main foreign policy goal.

A lack of agreement would please Moscow, which has used trade sanctions and the threat of disruption to energy supplies to dissuade Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and other former Soviet republics from moving closer to the EU. Russia has urged them to join a rival Russian-led customs union instead.

Yanukovych has signaled he would let Tymoshenko go to Germany, but only if she went there as a convicted person, falling short of the pardon some EU governments would like to see. His biggest fear is that she is pardoned and returns to Ukraine to challenge him in elections in 2015.

The Ukrainian parliament failed last Wednesday to agree on a draft law allowing Tymoshenko to go to Germany for treatment but may try again this week, when two EU envoys will return to Ukraine to try to broker a solution.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt accused Yanukovich of indecisiveness. “Everything is in the hands of President Yanukovich. We have a policy. I am not quite certain that he has a policy,” Bildt said.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid