Thursday, October 06, 2011

EU prospects damaged already

There has been much speculation lately that former PM Yulia Tymoshenko will be found guilty and sentenced next week; but by means of an artificially created mechanism of decriminalisation of portions of the law, she will be freed soon after.

This has lead to a commonly held view that: "The authorities will realize two strategic goals – preserve their political image, demonstrate strength and consistency by pronouncing Tymoshenko guilty, at the same time [the verdict] will be softened by the decriminalization after the trial to satisfy the Europeans,"

Commentators who propose such a view are mistaken. The political image of Ukraine's current rulers has already been serious damaged in the West, whatever the outcome of the Tymoshenko trial, because of the barrage of allegations voiced by European leaders and press over the last few months that the trial is politically motivated. The damage is difficult to quantify, but the country has certainly experienced terrible 'bad press' - no question about this. Prosecuting Tymoshenko has delivered little or no political gain domestically either.

The grubby face-saving decriminalisation maneouvres apparently 'forced' onto the Ukrainian authorities will not satisfy Europeans either because everyone is aware the motives for them are completely cynical. They merely leave a bad taste in the mouth.

The reason for the probably permanent damage to Ukraine's current authorities' reputation, and also to the country's medium term euro-integrational prospects, is that the case against Tymoshenko has been fundamentally weak. What should have been a showcase trial has turned into a catalogue of procedural errors, the judge has been biassed, and the defence has clearly not had a fair opportunity to challenge and test the evidence against them. This will all be supported and confirmed in the weeks to come by international monitoring groups. Hence the conclusion that the trial was concocted to eliminate a major political opponent.

However, having taken a pounding in recent weeks from European leaders at the YES conference and at the Eastern Parnership summit in Warsaw , Yanukovych may feel he has already taken the hardest knocks they can deliver. He suffers from the delusion that the EU needs Ukraine more than Ukraine needs the EU so after Tymoshenko is found guilty and sentenced there will surely be a big temptation to say: 'Not so fast..not so fast...let's see what happens..' and keep Tymoshenko under lock and key. A final option to pardon her will always remain available of course, if the political heat gets too great..

If, and/or when Tymoshenko is released, her priority will be to ensure the West's attention is focussed on former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko's preposterous trial. Then there will be hearings in New York, and in the European court of Human rights..and appeal hearings in Ukraine..

Yanukovych should check out the press frenzy surrounding the return of Amanda Knox to the US, after her recent release from an Italian jail ...and draw parallels... imagine the welcome Tymoshenko will receive the next time she visits Brussels or Strasbourg..or even Moscow.

Now if she was a plain Jane...

p.s. Lots of aerial photos of Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya palace and grounds here
Remember, the man's overriding ambition is to be one of Europe's richest men..
Also photos of Yatsenyuk's and Tymoshenko's houses nearby..she apparently, ahem, 'rents' hers..


Anonymous said...

France and Greece have already came out and stated that they will not support Ukraine's accession to the EU.

There were two interesting articles from ACE rapporteurs past and present that also made mention to CoE getting serious about issues of democracy and human rights.

If PACE is to have any credibility this time it must speak out loudly. In 2007 they stood by and looked on knowing that Yushchenko had violated Ukraine's constitutional rights and in the process had undermined confidence in the democratic process.

An article that I disagree with but which does reflect some of the thinking was published on the KyivPost web site.

Bernard said...

The image of Ukraine has definitely suffered terribly from the completely bizarre and farcical show trials
against Tymoshenko, Lutsenko and others. Anyone can just scan the international media and read the comments. The irrational and self-destructive manner in which the persecution of political opponents have been pursued can hardly been interpreted as anything else than as an obsession to nail personal opponents of Yanukovych at any price, thus overriding long-term national interests. It is difficult to believe that there are not any persons in the presidential administration that do not realize what is at stake, but even if they finally manage to persuade Yanukovych to release Tymoshenko, there is now another issue emerging that may be equally damaging for Ukraine's prospects to have a the trade and association agreements signed and ratified: the election laws for the parliament. There is a growing concern that Yanukovych will force a return to the Kuchma election system, despite recommendations from Venice commision that such a drastical change of the system for parliamentary elections should only be made if there is a broad political consensus about it, involving also major opposition forces. Such consensus as we all know does not exist. If a return to the Kuchma system will be imposed, it will be regarded as a major backlash in the democratic development of Ukraine. The upcoming parliamentary elections in 2012 will not be regarded as democratically legitimate by the EU. Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt expressed a hope that Ukraine at least has stopped digging themselves deeper into their hole after the Yalta conference, but if Yanukovych in spite of his promise to follow the recommendations from the Venice commission will ignore them, EU will conclude that Ukraine instead of stopp digging, actually are digging themselves deeper down into the hole.

LEvko said...

Thanks for the comment.

Statements such as these from Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Gryshchenko, and also from a well know government apologist:

"If the government starts to say that Tymoshenko’s case becomes small change in exchange for a written pledge of Ukraine’s potential membership in the EU, then they will admit that the judiciary is not independent in Ukraine."


"I am prepared to reconsider the Tymoshenko factor in the process of Ukraine’s European integration in exchange for Ukraine’s full membership in the EU – not just a promise."

shows that in their eyes Tymoshenko is a hostage to be used as a bargaining chip, meat to be traded...quite disgusting..and repulsive.

The argument Ukrainian authorities should be making right now is: The case against Tymoshenko is sound, she had been given a fair trail, the judge will weigh the evidence and will make his own impartial verdict. But we all know this is not true...