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EU Ministers Make Tymoshenko Issue Key To Agreement

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in happier days at a rally in Kyiv in 2005 (file photo)
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in happier days at a rally in Kyiv in 2005 (file photo)
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says Ukraine must do more to address the issue of selective justice, including resolving the case of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, before signing a key agreement with the European Union.

Speaking after an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg on October 21, Ashton said "the issue of selective justice -- and [former Ukrainian Prime Minister] Yulia Tymoshenko would say this issue were here -- is a broader question about the nature of the justice system that operates in Ukraine."

The meeting discussed preparations for the November 28-29 EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, where Ukraine wants to sign an association and free trade agreement with the EU.

Among preconditions, the EU has cited resolving the case of Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of office for what the West believes are politically motivated charges.

Two EU envoys have asked Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych to pardon Tymoshenko before allowing her to travel to Germany for treatment of a back ailment.

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox, who are monitoring the Tymoshenko case, began a two-day visit to Ukraine on October 21.

They plan to meet both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko, who is now being treated at a hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv under prison guard.

Under a bill submitted in recent days to the Ukrainian parliament, Tymoshenko would be able to go abroad for medical treatment but would then have to return home to continue serving her sentence.

Yanukovych has said he would sign the bill if parliament approves it.

Yanukovych is believed to be looking for ways to prevent Tymoshenko from staging a political comeback and taking part in a presidential poll in 2015.

The EU's Eastern Partnership seeks to draw ex-Soviet states closer to Western structures.

With reporting by AFP
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