Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The EU issues threats

If you ask any Ukrainian or Ukrainian Russian, they will assure you that Yulia Timoshenko, former Prime Minister and "Iron Lady" of Ukraine is probably the most corrupt politician in that extremely corrupt political set-up. (Incidentally, why do we have to go through the farce of calling every emerging female political leader the new "Iron Lady"?)

The story of her involvement with the various gas deals between Ukraine and Russia is murky and convoluted though, undoubtedly, there is a political aspect to her being found guilty of "abusing her powers to criminal ends" and of getting a stiff seven year sentence. All the same, given the various murky aspects of the case, it would have been best for the EU to sit this one out.

Not so, but far from it.
Following a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, the EU's foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton issued a statement saying: "We are not optimistic about this trial, our impression remains of what I would call a selective application of justice."

In a barely veiled threat to slow the expansion of economic ties with Ukraine, Ashton said: "We also discussed the fact that we are now in the final phase of our negotiations on the Association Agreement with Ukraine and we need to assess the impact of the verdict on that quite carefully."

Several other European leaders likewise indicated their concern in the run-up to Tuesday's verdict. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called it "without a doubt a test for the rule of law" in Ukraine. He added that, were Tymoshenko convicted, "it could have effects on Ukrainian relations with the EU. We reject political trials."

In mid-September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought up the Tymoshenko case with Yanukovych and told him that EU assistance depended on Ukraine's commitment to democracy. And a group of European politicians likewise expressed their concern during a September meeting in Yalta. "I hope we brought to (Yanukovych) very clearly the message that the rule of law is of critical importance," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said following the meeting.
Of course, the Ukrainian government could turn round and say that any agreement with the EU would depend on its commitment to democracy but I don't suppose they will do it. Instead, the likelihood is that they will move closer to Prime Minister and President-to-be Putin's Russia. Somehow, I cannot see what the EU will gain by that.


  1. It wouldn't do if shady and incompetent politicians started to get locked up, would it?
    Prescott blew a quite identifiable £500 million on regional fire control centres which are still costing us. I think the charge against Timoshenko was for $200 million, so perhaps we could award Prescott a lenient 10 years for an early guilty plea.

  2. Sorry, Ian. I don't understand what you are saying. Please elucidate if you can.