News / Europe

Ukraine Parliament Deadlock on Tymoshenko Clouds EU Signing

Lawmaker and Chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar (Punch) and WBC Heavyweight Champion boxer Vitali Klitschko, speaks to lawmakers during the parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, Nov. 13, 2013.
Lawmaker and Chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar (Punch) and WBC Heavyweight Champion boxer Vitali Klitschko, speaks to lawmakers during the parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, Nov. 13, 2013.
Ukraine's parliament failed on Wednesday to agree on a draft law allowing jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment, clouding prospects for signing  landmark agreements with the European Union this month.
Germany warned that with the Vilnius summit only two weeks away, time was running out for Kyiv to settle the case of Tymoshenko. Summit host Lithuania said there would be no success unless Ukraine produced “results”.
Accords on association and free trade, due to be signed at the summit on Nov. 28-29, offer the former Soviet republic the chance of a historic shift westwards, and away from Russia.
But the EU has made an end to “selective justice” a pre-requisite for the signing, and success at Vilnius hinges on whether President Viktor Yanukovich frees ex-prime minister Tymoshenko, his fiercest opponent.
She was jailed in 2011 for seven years for abuse of office after a trial which the EU says was political.
The proceedings will be watched closely by Russia, which is opposed to Ukraine signing the agreement and has threatened counter-measures. The Kremlin wants Kyiv to enter an alternative, Moscow-backed customs union.
Though he has refused to pardon Tymoshenko, Yanukovich has said he is ready to break the impasse by signing a draft law to allow her to go to Germany to be treated for chronic back pain.
At a special session on Wednesday, pro-Yanukovich deputies and Tymoshenko's supporters in parliament could not manage to agree on terms for such a draft and accused each other of seeking to undermine agreement in Vilnius.
Two EU envoys, Irish politician Pat Cox and former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, who have been on a shuttle mission from Brussels to Kyiv to find a compromise, attended the special parliament session.
They had expected to conclude their mission on Wednesday but opted to return to Kyiv for further talks next week when they hope the Ukraine parliament could make another attempt to pass the law affecting Tymoshenko.
“We plan to return to Kyiv next week and to spend as long as is necessary with as many people as is necessary to do whatever is necessary to secure success,” Cox told reporters.
Their findings will feed into a pre-summit meeting of EU foreign ministers on Nov. 18 when Kyiv's record in meeting important democratic criteria - including a release of Tymoshenko - will be assessed.
The envoys said Ukraine had made “considerable progress” in meeting EU conditions but had not gone far enough. “We regret to observe that at this time we are not yet in the position to report full compliance,” they said in a statement.
Kwasniewski said he saw a “50-50” percent chance of finding a solution. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that time was running out for Kyiv and the failure to agree a legal formula to release Tymoshenko was regrettable.
Lithuania was equally critical.

“Much is now in the hands of President Yanukovich ... It is possible for him to take the required decisions, to assume  leadership and responsibility for the fate of his country,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said in remarks carried by BNS news agency.

Appeal to envoys

Former Economy Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, speaking for the three main opposition parties, urged the EU envoys not to deliver too harsh a verdict on Ukraine, but “give Viktor Yanukovich time to come to his senses”.
Yanukovich has stuck to his policy of Euro-integration despite intense diplomatic pressure from Russia - on which Ukraine relies for gas - and the threats of retaliatory trade action by the Kremlin.
But commentators say they are now detecting a change of “mood music” from the political establishment in Kyiv around the Vilnius summit. A call by Ukraine's union of industrialists - dominated by Yanukovich supporters - for the signing to be delayed by a year was given prominence by local media.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, unusually placed the emphasis on the need to repair relations with Russia rather than on what prospects would be opened up by association with the EU.
A criminal action brought against Tymoshenko's chief lawyer has further soured the atmosphere.
Yanukovich's supporters in parliament had earlier pressed for a draft law that would release Tymoshenko to Germany for treatment but require her to return to Ukraine to complete her jail sentence. The opposition, by contrast, wanted an option under which her sentence could be wiped out after treatment.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
November 14, 2013 4:19 PM
Adolf Hitler used Ukranians to run the concentration camps.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs