EU: Ukrainian Membership Depends on Political Circumstances

Posted December 19th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The European Union and Ukraine have completed a summit in Kyiv laying out a landmark political and trade cooperation agreement, but the EU says it will not sign the deal until Ukraine resolves the case of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

After face-to-face talks with Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych Monday, EU President Herman van Rompuy said the agreement had been finalized, but would be signed depending “on political circumstances.”

Mr. van Rompuy said his concern is with what he described as the politically motivated justice system in Ukraine. He said Ms. Tymoshenko's trial is the most striking example.

The former prime minister was sentenced to seven years in prison in October for abuse of power in a 2009 gas deal with Russia that her opponents say was too beneficial to Moscow. She has since been charged with numerous other crimes.

She has denied the charges and has appealed her conviction.

Ms. Tymoshenko has described her trial as “a political lynching” aimed at allowing President Yanukovych to rid himself of a political rival. She had been expected to be the main opposition candidate in an election next year, but is not eligible to run if the conviction is upheld.

Mr. Yanukovych has denied her accusation.

The United States, the European Union and human rights groups have condemned the charges against Ms. Tymoshenko as politically motivated.