The European Union has warned Ukraine it will have to free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko if it wants to be sure of signing key deals with the bloc.
EU Enlargement Commission Stefan Fuele met in Kyiv on October 11 with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to discuss the work of the EU's envoys to Ukraine, former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox.
Yanukovych said he sees prospects "very soon" for a solution to the issue of Tymoshenko's release.
"We still have to face the most painful question -- this is the question of Tymoshenko," Yanukovych said. "But the EU mission -- Kwasniewski and Cox -- is working, we are working together, and we are seeking a way [out] and I hope that very soon we will conclusively work out by what means we can settle this question."
Fuele expressed satisfaction with Yanukovych's comments.
"I'm very happy to see the full compatibility of your assessment and my assessment of the progress being made and what still needs to be done," he said.
But Fuele said these assessments need to lead to a solution to the question of Tymoshenko's incarceration.
"I cannot agree more also with your own assessment that as far as 'selective' justice on the former Prime Minister [Yulia Tymoshenko] -- a solution is to be found, and it is to be found within the framework of the Cox [and] Kwasniewski mission -- I am absolutely in agreement," Fuele said.
Fuele also said Kyiv still has to show tangible progress in reforming its electoral law and judicial bodies.
In an interview with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Czech President Milos Zeman, who is due to visit Ukraine later this month, said he would raise the issue of Tymoshenko when he meets with Yanukovych.
"I don't want to to meddle in Ukraine's domestic affairs," Zeman said. "I also don't want to judge whether Yulia Tymoshenko is guilty or not. I only think that the president of Ukraine has the sacred right ofa so-called humanitarian gesture, and it's only him alone who can decide whether he'll make such a humanitarian gesture or not."
Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for crimes related to a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She denies the charges as politically motivated.
The EU has long sought either a pardon for Tymoshenko or her release for medical treatment abroad for a back ailment ahead of Ukraine's expected signing of an EU Association Agreement in November.
In Kyiv on October 10, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle repeated Berlin's offer
to accept Tymoshenko for medical treatment as a way of solving the dispute.
With reporting by Reuters and Interfax