September 1, 2011

Who cares about Ukraine

Who cares about Ukraine: A letter unanswered | The Economist

A letter unanswered

Aug 31st 2011, 11:47 by E.L.
AS European foreign ministers get ready for their Gymnich meeting on Friday and Saturday, it would be nice to think that Ukraine's increasingly casual attitude to the rule of law would be on the agenda. In early August a bunch of senior Americans dealing with Europe wrote to the leaders of the EU (Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, Catherine Ashton and Radosław Sikorski) asking them to suspend Ukraine's EU talks following the arrest of Yulia Tymoshenko.
It was a private letter, not an open one, but got no reply.

Here's an extract of the text, written (all in a personal capacity) by David Kramer (formerly of the Bush administration State Dept, now president of Freedom House); A. Wess Mitchell, President of the CEPA thinktank; Kurt Volker, former ambassador to NATO, now at SAIS; and Damon Wilson of the Atlantic Council.
Your Excellencies:
The recent arrest of former prime minister of Ukraine Yuliya Tymoshenko crosses a line on respect for democratic principles and practice in one of the EU's most important Eastern Partners.
While it is reasonable to fully investigate charges of corruption and abuse of office, the justifications given for Ms. Tymoshenko's arrest, and the manner in which she was arrested, now make it unmistakably clear that this is a case of political retaliation, rather than the dispassionate exercise of the rule of law.
Of all the international actors with influence over Ukraine, the European Union is the most consequential. We therefore urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that Europe treats this latest occurrence as crossing a threshold, putting Ukraine's behavior beyond what is acceptable within the European context.
Specifically, in order to send the most powerful signal possible, we would urge you to see that the European Union suspends its dialogue with Ukraine on Association and Free Trade Agreement accession until Ukrainian authorities
Release Tymoshenko from incarceration;
Terminate other pending, politically-motivated prosecutions; and
Release others who have been wrongfully incarcerated, such as Yuri Lutsenko.
Commissioner Stefan Fule reiterated the need for “fair, transparent, and independent legal processes,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described the trial and arrest of Ms. Tymoshenko as “an embarrassing spectacle” that is causing Ukraine “great damage.” The United States Embassy in Kyiv stated that these developments “raise concerns internationally about the application of the rule of law in Ukraine.”
These are all strong and useful statements. But Ukrainian authorities will only take notice if they are followed by concrete action, which the EU as a whole can deliver.
For Europe and the United States to view Ukraine as a viable partner, Ukraine must clearly demonstrate its commitment to democratic principles and values, including fair and uniform judicial proceedings. If Ukraine fails to do so, it must be made clear to the people of Ukraine that the abusive power of the current government is jeopardizing Ukraine's own European ambitions.

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