Jose Manuel Pintu Teisheira: Yanukovych understands what needs to be done
Following the scandal after the Head of the European Commission in Ukraine, Jose Manuel Pintu Teisheira was refused permission to take part in Savik Shuster’s political talk show on the State-owned UTV-1 and explain the EU position on difficulties in relations with Ukraine, Mr Teisheira has spoken to Voice of America
“We are concerned that the former Prime Minister and other government officials have become the target of selective application of the law in order to prevent them taking part in the country’s political life. This is what the problem is”, he explains.
The EU-Ukraine Summit is scheduled for 19 December. What in your opinion will be the result? Will the Association Agreement be signed?
Jose Manuel Pintu Teisheira - The summit is an opportunity for dialogue at the highest level. It does not matter whether the end of negotiations will be announced, or some other results – that’s not the point. The main thing is that that we see that Ukraine is moving in the right direct.ion.
Ukraine has been moving towards to that Agreement for five years. However how, when the result is near, the fate of the agreement is in danger. The EU is demanding that imprisoned opposition figures are released, while Ukraine is seeking the prospects of EU membership. Why is the EU turning Kyiv down?
The EU’s position was always very clear – at Ukraine’s request we offered an Association Agreement. That means both political cooperation and access to the EU countries’ market. For Ukraine this is a chance for reform from the present post-Soviet system to a contemporary western-style democracy. Our negotiations on a comprehensive free trade zone have recently entered the final stage, with only some specific details remaining to be agreed. That is a very positive development. However in the Association negotiations, complications arose unexpectedly. This is about the lack of a guarantee for EU membership. Yet that was not on the agenda for the last five years of negotiations.
We believe that Ukraine should achieve considerable progress in accepting what we would call our fundamental values – respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Only after that will EU members arrive at consensus about offering Ukraine membership. That is, there are no grounds for using the issue of membership prospects as an obstacle to concluding negotiations on Association.
Firstly, the EU’s offer was the safe from the very beginning of negotiations and the Ukrainian side was always aware of it. I recall statements from President Yanukovych during the election campaign and already after his election. Both the public statements , and those made in person to EU leaders. He said that Ukraine would not ask the EU to do what it was not ready to do. He said that Ukraine would build a European life and would await steps in response from Europe. That is the understanding of the Association Agreement. Your President understands perfectly what the Association Agreement means and what opportunities it opens up for Ukraine, and what is needed for prospects to appear for EU membership.
The interviewer suggested that many see the EU as imposing their will on Ukraine regarding the release of Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders.
Jose Manuel Pintu Teisheira is adamant that the EU is not imposing anything, that it is Ukraine that says it wants to be part of the European EU family. “We reply, if Ukraine wants to move on that path, , you need to respect our values, among them being the rule of law and the right of citizens to a fair trial. We do not see that in Ukraine, particularly in the case of Ms Tymoshenko. She is being tried according to laws written in the time of Stalin and Khrushchev. That does not comply with European values. Even the very court proceedings failed to meet our understanding of the justice system. If Ukraine wants to be a part of the European family, it should respect our values. We will not make exceptions for Ukraine and have never made them for other countries which joined the EU.
Can you explain the situation – Europeans assert that Ukraine’s leaders promised to release Tymoshenko. The Ukrainian President says that he did not promise anything. Was there really some agreement?
I cannot say that there were promises (to release Tymoshenko). However we were clearly given to understand that during several meetings at high level. Those were the expectations formed.
You mean expectations that Tymoshenko would be released?
That a decision would be found on how to resolve the situation with a trial during which the standards of rule of law were not observed.
In Ukraine some have explained the harsh reaction from Europe as an “emotional attitude” to Tymoshenko.
These emotions were not aroused by Tymoshenko personally. We are concerned that the former Prime Minister and other government officials have become the target of selective application of the law in order to prevent them taking part in the country’s political life. This is what the problem is.
For the moment the Ukrainian regime is not listening very much to recommendations from Europe. Let’s imagine that this will continue and that Tymoshenko and Lutsenko will remain behind bars. Is the EU prepared to apply sanctions against Ukrainian officials?
I wouldn’t like to speculate or make any predictions. We will assess specific moves and react to them accordingly. We are still hoping for positive cooperation which will enable us to move towards a common goal. Obviously if that doesn’t happen before the summit, or after it, Ukraine will remain in Europe and be a neighbour of the EU. Many strong links will remain between our citizens. We will always support dialogue and cooperate with Ukrainian people. We will hope that at some stage the aspirations of Ukrainians will be fulfilled.
Very slightly abridged from the original at: http://www.voanews.com/ukrainian/news/ukraine/ua-eu-2011-11-11-133703478.html