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Relations With EU In Question Following Tymoshenko Verdict

Yulia Tymoshenko is embraced by her husband Oleksandr after her conviction is announced.
BRUSSELS -- Before the conviction of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on abuse-of-office charges on October 11, the EU was expected to sign a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) deal and an Association Agreement with Ukraine before the end of the year.

Now it appears that those talks will continue, but whether the agreements will ever come into force remains an open question.

Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski told RFE/RL that the talks should be completed, but that the unratified agreement could stand as a symbol of what relations between Brussels and Ukraine could potentially be.

"We should finalize the Association Agreement as a model relationship which Ukraine of today does not deserve," He said. "So, 'yes' for concluding negotiations and signing, 'no' for ratification."

Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski
Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski
He added that following the Tymoshenko ruling on October 11, the chances for the ratification of the accord are vanishingly small.

"In the European Parliament, I don't see the slightest chance of any ratification of any document between the European Union and Ukraine in the present circumstances," he said.

Saryusz-Wolski noted that he personally had lobbied in the European Parliament for Ukraine to be listed as a potential candidate for membership in the bloc back in 2004. But he believes the Tymoshenko conviction has closed that possibility for now.

Paths Of EU And Ukraine Could Now Diverge

"I think that today Ukraine does not deserve [any] mention of [EU] membership." He said. "If it does not change, it means that the roads of the European Union and Ukraine [will] separate."

German MEP Elmer Brok emphasized that the Association Agreement is not just an economic pact, but an expression of shared values.

"The Association Agreement is something that leads to a European perspective, and for the European Union, the rule of law and democracy is of the utmost importance," he said. "The economic relationship is not everything."

Brok added that the Tymoshenko verdict demonstrated that "the law was misused" and compared the proceedings to the Stalin-era show trials of the 1930s.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that Kyiv plans to continue its talks with the EU.

"We are focused on completing the negotiations in any case," he said. "As far as we know, the EU is also focused on this. I have just seen the comments of European Union Commissioner [for Enlargement Stefan] Fuele, in which he said the European Union still intends to complete the negotiations. Although, of course, they are disturbed by this sentence [in Brussels]."

Possible Sanctions

Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU Kostiantyn Yeliseyev told RFE/RL that the EU-Ukraine pact is of overriding historical significance.

"For the first time, the EU will conclude the Agreement of Association with a republic of the former USSR." He said. "In my view, it could be compared to the demolition of the Berlin Wall."

Yeliseyev added that the agreement is important for the EU as a demonstration of its faith in the European project, despite the current problems within the eurozone.

Ukrainian parliamentarian Mykola Tomenko
Ukrainian parliamentarian Mykola Tomenko
"In my view, we are very close to a deal," he said. "And at this stage to put the Tymoshenko case ahead of the strategic importance of the document is a great mistake."

Earlier on October 11, Mykola Tomenko, deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and a member of Tymoshenko's party, told RFE/RL that the opposition plans to appeal to the EU to impose sanctions on Kyiv similar to those already levied against Belarus.

"Starting with officials who are directly or indirectly involved, [we will] unfortunately [go the] Belarusian way [and call for] travel bans and freezing their assets," he said. "According to our information, there is quite a lot of money. Despite all their pro-Russian attitudes, our high-level officials keep money in Europe and travel and educate their children in Europe as well."

Tomenko added that a concrete list of names of such officials has not yet been compiled.

with contributions from Robert Coalson and RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.

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