An extraordinary session of Ukraine's parliament has failed to debate a bill to allow former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment abroad -- a move seen as a key condition for Kyiv to gain closer ties with the European Union.
The session was held in the presence of top EU envoys Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, who were due to deliver a report on Ukraine in Brussels later on November 13.
Volodymyr Rybak, the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, declared the session closed after the ruling Party of Regions and the opposition failed to agree on a joint text for the bill.
The EU envoys' report will then be discussed on November 18 by EU foreign ministers, who will assess Kyiv's readiness to sign an Association Agreement at the EU's Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.
The agreement is seen as a first step toward eventual membership in the bloc.
Kwasniewski told reporters in Kyiv that the next session of the parliament, on November 19, will be Kyiv's "last chance" to approve legislation required for signing an Association Agreement with the European Union.
The legislation includes a bill to allow Ukrainian inmates to seek medical treatment abroad and thus permit Tymoshenko, who suffers from back pain, to leave Ukraine.
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.
The EU -- which has made an end to "selective justice'' a prerequisite for Ukraine's signing of the Association Agreement -- had threatened to suspend the deal if Ukraine fails to let Tymoshenko go for treatment to Germany.
In Brussels, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele's spokesman, Peter Stano, said the Ukrainian government must act with urgency in Tymoshenko's case.
"There must now also be a decisive move to address the issue of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and in this context we fully support the ongoing effort by the Cox-Kwasniewski mission and their final report to the European Parliament will be of crucial importance," Stano said.
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.
Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned Yanukovych from the parliament floor on November 13 that he will be held responsible if he endangers Ukraine's "European future."
Moscow wants Ukraine to join its customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan and has raised the prospect of economic retaliation.
With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and ITAR-TASS