BRUSSELS -- The European Union's mission to monitor the fate of imprisoned former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymishenko has been prolonged to the EU's Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.
On November 13, the European Parliament decided to extend the mission, headed by former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament president Pat Cox, after the Ukrainian parliament had earlier failed to agree on legislation to allow Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment.
Kwasniewski and Cox will visit Ukraine again next week to try to find a compromise before the summit. The Ukrainian parliament will revisit the issue on November 19, and the two monitors believe that there still is a 50-50 chance that the law will ultimately be passed.
"We have to return to Kyiv on mission number 27 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," Pat Cox told reporters at a press conference in Brussels. "Our patience has been greatly tested. We are physically very exhausted but our good will remains undiminished."
The envoys have traveled repeatedly to Kyiv and attended the extraordinary session of the Ukrainian parliament earlier on November 13, before returning to the Belgian capital.
Speaking in Kyiv earlier on the same day, Kwasniewski warned that November 19 was "the last chance" to resolve the Tymoshenko case.
"We understand that it is very complicated politically but we hope that there will be enough good will to find the consensus and that all parties that want to sign an agreement with the European Union will help," he added.
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. Quoted by the BNS news agency, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said it was now up to President Viktor Yanukovych "to take the required decisions, to assume leadership and responsibility for the fate of his country."
The release of Tymoshenko is seen as a prerequisite for the European Union to sign an association agreement with Ukraine in Vilnius.
Peter Stano, the spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, said that the findings of the European Parliament's mission would be of "crucial importance" to that decision, and called for a "decisive move" to resolve the Tymoshenko issue.
Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 on abuse-of-power charges largely seen as political revenge by President Viktor Yanukovych, who narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in a presidential runoff in 2010.
Yanukovych has been accused by the opposition of never wanting to sign the agreement with the EU in the first place.
He was also harshly criticized after it emerged that he had traveled to Moscow on November 9 for secret talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov also prompted concerns that Ukraine might be tilting eastward when he told his cabinet on November 13 that the normalization of ties with Russia was his country's top priority.
Moscow wants Ukraine to join its Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan and has raised the prospect of economic retaliation if Kyiv moves closer to the EU.
With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and AP