German Minister: Release of political prisoners in Ukraine would be a signal to the EU
Cornelia Pieper, State Minister in the German Foreign Office, has said that Ukraine would give a positive signal to the EU on the eve of the December summit by releasing Yulia Tymoshenko and all political prisoners.
She stressed that Germany, like Poland, considers Ukraine to be a very important partner in Eastern Europe. However, she said, the European community do not separate economic interests and democratic values and therefore there can be no compromise in this area. “There can’t be more freedom or less freedom” and the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement can only be signed when the Ukrainian regime demonstrates real steps towards removing violations of human rights. People cannot be held in custody when there is no court ruling of guilty, and if they have nonetheless been remanded in custody, there must be an opportunity to visit them. She says that she had been refused permission to visit Yulia Tymoshenko on Friday, together with two members of the Bundestag.
Ms Pieper said that the EU also expects guarantees on freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly and improvement as soon as possible of legislation leading to the affirmation of the presumption of innocence.
From a report at the Radio Svoboda Ukrainian Service