EU officials express ‘regret, dissapointment’ that Tymoshenko couldn’t visit Brussels
The statements below were issued on Feb. 1 by two top European Union officials in regards to a travel ban imposed on Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko by prosecutors. This week, Ukrainian prosecutors rejected an appeal made by Tymoshenko, in which she asked for special permission to make a brief visit to Brussels despite an ongoing travel ban so that she – a leading Ukrainian politician – could meet with European politicians and leaders. Tymoshenko was invited by top European officials to attend a series of events in Brussels starting on Feb. 1. But prosecutors banned Tymoshenko from traveling abroad late in 2010 upon charging her with misspending while serving as prime minister. The investigations targeting her as well as the arrests of about a dozen of her political allies are widely seen as politically motivated attack against political opponents of President Viktor Yanukovych. Citing the investigations, the United States and a senior European Union official expressed concern weeks ago about the return of political persecution in Ukraine.
A spokesperson of European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele issued the following statement:
“As a general principle the EU would like to underline the importance of full respect for the rule of law in all criminal investigations and prosecutions including the principle of a fair, impartial and independent legal process. In this vein the EU also recalls the need to ensure that the criminal law is not used for political ends.
While fully respecting the judicial process, Commissioner Füle nevertheless regrets the fact that, as a result of the restriction on travel upon Mrs Tymoshenko, European institutions are unable to maintain their continuing dialogue with her in Brussels in the coming days. Such discussions form part of the wider dialogue which the EU enjoys with all important stakeholders in Ukraine concerning the implementation of Ukraine's European agenda."
A spokesperson for Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, issued this statement:
“President Jerzy Buzek was disappointed to learn that he will not have an opportunity to meet with Yulia Tymoshenko. He was ready and available to meet her during her stay in Brussels and to discuss with her the situation in Ukraine and the current state of EU-Ukraine relations in her capacity as leader of the main opposition party. He looks forward to a future opportunity to meet with Tymoshenko.
Without knowing the exact circumstances of the current decision of the Ukrainian authorities I would like to recall that in the past President Buzek has raised concern about the criminal cases brought against a number of opposition politicians in Ukraine."