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.
    Reuters
    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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.