From European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle's speech at conference: "Ukraine 20 years on: challenges for the future" European Policy Center Brussels, 21 September 2011
"There has been a lot of good news about Ukraine in the last twenty years. Unfortunately there have also been some difficult moments, which have brought the wrong kind of publicity. We are living through such a moment, and there are some basic problems which all of Ukraine’s key partners want to see addressed. Its ability to successfully overcome these problems would give a strong incentive to further consolidate the rule of law in the entire region. I know that - with the right will -Ukraine can surmount these obstacles, which are creating so many questions right now between us.
As I explained in Yalta, the on-going trials against opposition politicians appear to be politically motivated and damage Ukraine’s reputation. In order to change the negative picture of Ukraine that is emerging, I urged the leaders of Ukraine to work harder to ensure the judiciary’s independence. They need to show that they embrace the values underpinning political association with the EU. They need to convince us that Ukraine is serious about democracy, the rule of law, and that Ukraine is serious about the Association Agreement currently being negotiated with the EU.
The Association Agreement is based on political association. It involves a clear and effective commitment to the core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law to which Ukraine has committed itself, towards OSCE, the Council of Europe and also the EU. It is a concern in itself that so many opposition figures are now facing legal action. But in addition, legal experts have criticised the conduct of the trials. Judicial processes need to be clearly unbiased, and it goes without saying that defendants should have a fair chance to prepare their cases. A weak, opaque justice system is a worry to all who value human rights and European values. It is also a deterrent for foreign investment since businesses need to be reassured about property rights and the functioning of the Courts.
But this negative development is not irreversible. Through my close contacts with Ukrainian counterparts, I am convinced that the Ukrainian leaders have understood the gravity of the situation, and are able to turn things around, and choose a different track. Ukraine can clearly demonstrate that weak rule of law is a remnant of the past. Ukraine can show that European values are at the heart of its European choice. This involves fair and transparent trials of former opposition leaders. But it also involves beginning serious work on a comprehensive justice reform. This is an ambitious project that requires determination and commitment over many years. The EU stands ready to continue supporting you in this endeavour..."
Also brief 5-minute video here
In her write-up of the event, 'Lyeviy Bereg's' Sonya Koshkina describes the efforts of first vice prime minister responsible for economic development and trade, Andriy Kluyev, as well as those of Petro Poroshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk , who try their utmost to put a brave positive spin into their presentations in support of euro-integration.
She says the Party of Regions' oligarchs have long been pro-Europe, but the president was slow to react to BYuT's lobbying in European circles on behalf of Tymoshenko after she was charged. Yanukovych failed to react right up to Independence day, by which time opinion had hardened in Europe that Tymoshenko was indeed being politically persecuted. By that time it was too late to change opinions and now the Europeans will be scrutinising events most carefully and critically before Ukraine's future in Europe is decided.
Koshkina's transcript of Fule's statement at the conference indicates he took a much stronger line, perhaps ad-libbed during his presentation, than that offered in the official print-out above.
Her article ends with rumours that over the last few months, whenever euro-integrational themes have been raised with Yanukovych, his response has been: 'Explain, why is this necessary, personally, to me? What will I have from this? In other words: where's the money?
In mafia circles the capo di tutti capi is usually the wealthiest of the bunch. Yanukovych looks down on his cabinet of ministers, on his close business associates and sponsors, and thinks: "These guys, whom I have known for decades, are so much wealthier than me...they owe so much to me...surely in my position I deserve to be up there with them too, no?" Hence the Mezhyhirya's with gold sanitary fittings in the bathrooms, the helicopters, executive jets, hunting lodges...etc."Because I'm worth it?"
"The talent for self-justification is surely the finest flower of human evolution, the greatest achievement of the human brain." [From 'The age of absurdity' by Michael Foley]
LEvko wonders...Did Yanukovych and his close advisers really think Europeans would ratify association and trade agreement deals at a time when Ukraine's opposition leaders were in jail?