Füle conveys EU’s concern to Ukraine

Füle conveys EU’s concern to Ukraine

KIEV - Reuters
Füle conveys EU’s concern to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Yanukovich (L) welcomes EU commissioner Füle. AFP photo

EU commissioner Stefan Füle, on a mission to Ukraine to save a Dec. 19 summit from failure, said yesterday he had voiced serious concern again to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich over the jailing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, was jailed for seven years in October on charges of abuse of office after a trial which the EU says was politically motivated. She says it is a “lynching” by Yanukovich, an old political foe who only narrowly beat her in a run-off for the presidency in Feb. 2010 after a bitter contest.

The Tymoshenko affair has thrown into jeopardy next week’s summit in Kiev which was meant to lay the ground for a new strategic relationship between the ex-Soviet republic and the 27-member body. Füle, the bloc’s point man on Ukraine, held more than three hours of talks with Yanukovich on Dec. 12 night and then visited Tymoshenko for a half-hour at the Kiev prison where she is being held.

“I underlined that the EU is concerned about lack of progress on a number of critical reforms in Ukraine, including those in the constitutional and judicial spheres and we have had substantial discussions on these,” Füle said of his talks with Yanukovich and others. “I also reiterated our serious concern over recent cases of selective justice in Ukraine, including the cases of Yulia Tymoshenko and others,” Füle said in a personal statement. With Tymoshenko, he had discussed her health and developments in her case.

“I informed her about the EU’s concerns regarding this process and assured her that we would continue to follow closely her appeal and would insist upon the need for her to benefit from of all her rights to defend herself in a fair process,” Füle said.