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EU Ministers Tell Ukraine Time For Talk 'Over' On Tymoshenko Case

Ukrainian riot police block opposition supporters carrying a flag with the portrait of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from entering the city hall during a rally in Kyiv in July.
Two European Union ministers have told Ukraine "the time for talk is over" and that action is "urgently" needed for a deal on the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski says that was the message he and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had at a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on October 22 in Kyiv.

"Time for bluffing is over on both sides. Its the time for action now," Sikorski said.

The European Union says a deal on the release of Tymoshenko, who the EU says was the victim of a political trial, is vital for signing a key agreement with Ukraine.

Ukraine hopes to sign an Association and Free Trade Agreement with the EU at an Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.

Sikorski said a deal on Tymoshenko's case has to be reached by November 18, when EU foreign ministers will discuss Ukraine at a presummit meeting.

A lawmaker from Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party says the former prime minister had agreed to a "partial pardon" solution proposed by two European Parliament envoys.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk was speaking after meeting with Sikorski and Bildt earlier the same day.

Ukrainian media reports say a "partial pardon" would cut Tymoshenko's seven-year prison term by more than a half. It would also ban her from public office for three years and she would have to pay a fine of $200 million.

Yanukovych has said he would sign a bill submitted to parliament that would allow Tymoshenko to go abroad for treatment of a back ailment, but has balked at pardoning her.

Envoys Continue Their Mission

The European Parliament envoys -- former parliament president Pat Cox and former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski -- are continuing their mission to secure a compromise.

Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt said a "green light" from the envoys is essential.

"Ukraine has made great progress. We all hope that there will be the possibility (to) sign the (association and free-trade) agreement in Vilnius," Bilt said. "But there is a remaining issue, and if there is a green light from (EU envoys) Pat Cox and Alexander Kwasniewski, then there will be a green light for Ukraine in Europe. If there is not a green light from them, there will not be a green light for Ukraine. That's it."

Bildt said he expects the standoff to be resolved -- one way or another -- soon.

"Conversations can go on endlessly, and to some extent they have been endlessly over these years," Bildt said. "We are now approaching crunch time. So it is green light or no green light for Ukraine. And we will know the answer to that question within a fairly short time."

READ NEXT: Tymoshenko's Strange Week In Jail

On October 22, they visited Tymoshenko in hospital in the town of Kharkiv where she is being treated under prison guard.

Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 on charges of abuse of office widely seen as politically motivated.

Based on reporting by Reuters and
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