EU attempts to resolve deadlock with Ukraine to pave way for accord
Talks come amid tensions over status of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko
A poster displaying a portrait of jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev. Her case has added to EU-Ukraine tensions. Photograph: Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters
European commissioner Stefan Füle flies to Kiev today to meet Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in a bid to resolve a deepening political deadlock over Ukraine’s proposed signing of an association agreement with the EU.
The latest round of diplomacy takes place less than 10 days before a major EU summit in Vilnius, at which Ukraine had been expected to sign a historic accord with the EU.
EU foreign ministers yesterday urged Ukraine to take decisive steps in the coming days to address the EU’s concerns, amid continuing tensions over the status of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Speaking following a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU was “committed to strengthening its relations with its partners in the east”.
“We want this summit to be the summit of delivery,” she said. However, she stressed the importance of key votes this week in the Ukrainian parliament on the issue of parliamentary elections, and reform of the general prosecutor’s office. The outstanding issue of selective justice also had to be addressed, she said.
Amid reports that the EU was examining ways of sending gas to Ukraine from bordering EU states, German chancellor Angela Merkel called on Ukraine to take decisive steps ahead next week’s Eastern Partnership summit.
Speaking in the Bundestag, Dr Merkel suggested that Europe should offer trade and energy incentives to counter the “huge pressure” being exerted on Ukraine by Russia.
Earlier, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore, who was at yesterday’s foreign affairs meeting, said “some work” needed to be done before a deal could be signed.
“The issue here is about selective justice. We have to be satisfied that Ukraine has made sufficient progress on that. I don’t think sufficient progress has been made yet.”
He said ministers were not solely concerned about the Tymoshenko case. “That case is really a symbol, or an indication, of where Ukraine is at on the issue of rule of war.”
Ms Ashton will lead talks with Iran and western diplomats in Geneva this week.
Asked whether a deal with Iran was possible, she said her goal was “to see whether we can find a way to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme”.