Association Agreement without release of Tymoshenko & Lutsenko "unlikely"
On disagreement within the EU regarding the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, and the political conditions which could delay the signing until after the next presidential elections
During a press briefing in Paris on 4 December, Štefan Füle EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Enlargement answered questions from Ukrainsky Tyzhden [Ukrainian Week] regarding the EU and Ukraine.
Commissioner Füle explained more generally that the whole issue of EU enlargement is uncertain at present. Public opinion surveys within the EU have found that people are not eager to open doors to new members. There is skepticism, he said, over the entry of Croatia which has already begun entry procedure; Montenegro which has commenced negotiations; and Serbia which recently received candidate status.
Asked about the state of negotiations with Ukraine over the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the Commissioner said that “the question is not whether this agreement will be signed, but when. From our side, we would not mind signing the document in the first half of next year. If the Ukrainian side is ready”.
He mentioned a huge number of legal documents which it takes time to translate into various languages. “However there are also political conditions, i.e. rejection of the use of the justice system for political purposes; the adoption of a clear and full election code; and real reform in introducing the standards of a law-based democracy”.
During the informal discussions which followed, Ukrainsky Tyzhden was told by a high-ranking official from the Commissioner’s office who preferred to remain anonymous that it was unlikely that the agreement would be signed while former Prime Minister Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Lutsenko remain imprisoned.
Asked whether Brussels is considering sanctions against specific people implicated in election fraud, the same official answered “we’re not yet thinking [about them]”. He did, however, confirm that intensive consultations at the level of the management of diplomatic missions of EU countries were taking place right now over the Ukrainian agreement.
A French diplomat told the journal that Poland and Lithuania push for swift signing of an agreement, whereas the UK, France; the Netherlands; Sweden; Denmark; Italy and Spain are insisting that the political conditions must first be met. For example, an electoral code developed with the participation of the opposition, not like the last one.
Ukrainsky Tyzhden says that according to various sources, if the political context does not change in the near future, the agreement could be put off until 2015, i.e. the next presidential elections. The report suggests that to a large extent this depends on Germany’s position.
The official in Commissioner Füle’s office stressed that the issue at present is not one that can be changed through money or lobbying. “The situation now, more than ever, depends on mobilization of the public. If the opposition and civic sector united efforts and effectively achieved positive changes, albeit small, but specific, then a step towards rapprochement from Brussels would be slow in coming”.
From a report here