Monday, November 21, 2011

British Foreign Office on Tymoshenko


Room W2.72
King Charles Street

21 November 2011

Dear Mr

Thank you for your email of 1 November to [Foreign Office Minister] Jeremy Browne about the conviction of Yuliya Tymoshenko. I have been asked to reply.

The UK is very concerned by recent events in Ukraine. The handling of the cases against opposition figures has exposed the extent to which Ukraine is lagging behind EU standards and expectations in the areas of democracy and the rule of law. As the Minister for Europe David Lidington said in the House of Commons on 25 October, "…if Ukraine wants to make progress with its declared objective of closer integration with the EU, it must realise that that involves a clear and permanent commitment to political reform to establish modern democratic institutions." The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have both said publically that the UK sees the politically motivated conviction of Ms Tymoshenko as unacceptable.

The UK believes that the best way to achieve reform and stability in Ukraine is to continue their closer integration with the EU. We also remain strongly committed to offering full membership of the EU to European states which meet the criteria. As you state, Ukraine and the EU are at an advanced stage of negotiations for an Association Agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The UK wants to complete these negotiations to demonstrate the extent of the EU offer to Ukraine.

However, initialling the texts simply means that they cannot easily be reopened; they still have to be ratified by the Parliaments of all Member States and the European Parliament. For this to happen, the Ukrainians must keep to their side of the bargain. Those detained as a result of politically motivated trials must be released as soon as possible and allowed to take part in the political process. We have made clear to the Ukrainian authorities at all levels, including by calling in the Ukrainian Ambassador, that if steps are not taken to find a solution soon, ratification of the Association Agreement will be put in jeopardy. What happens next is down to the authorities in Kyiv.

The UK remains a friend of Ukraine. However, they must understand that respect for the rule of law and human rights are at the heart of the EU and have to be applied consistently. We will continue to deliver these messages to the Ukrainian authorities at every opportunity and watch developments very closely.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Whitehead

Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Team
Eastern Europe and Central Asia Directorate

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