'Deputies in Ukraine's parliament squabbled on Thursday about the release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, but there were no signs of a breakthrough on an issue that is threatening landmark agreements with the European Union" [From Reuters]
Watching the PoR 'talking heads' today, my impression was they were disorientated - no-one really knowing what was going on; and comments from independent-minded political experts were ever more pessimistic.
It is your blogger's belief that the president. his advisers and many PoR deputies, have long been arrogantly convinced the association agreement with the EU could be clinched without releasing Tymoshenko. It is beginning to dawn in their thick skulls they were mistaken.
Yanukovych, showing a dreadful lack of leadership, handed over responsibility for solving the Tymoshenko problem to parliament. Without the support of the Communist party parliamentary deputies, [PoR's ruling coalition allies], he could not be certain of any outcome there.
The president's party in parliament are now trying to make, or pretending they are making concessions which will incur minimal losses for the president's image. They hope that their proposed laws will be supported by the opposition.
It could all be too late already. The Association Agreement paperwork has been 'ready to go', astonishingly, since December 2011. Now there we are just a few days left, and a massive hurdle still remains to be overcome before Vilnius.
Looking back through my postings over the last two years it is clear the EU have made concession after concession to make life easier for Yanukovych and ensure the deal was done...but Yanukovych has repeated broken promises, and has not budged a millimetre on the key 'Tymoshenko issue'.
On November 18 EU foreign ministers meet to assess whether the Ukrainian side has done its homework and satisfied clearly defined criteria, including, most importantly, ending selective use of justice. Each of these foreign ministers will have to be briefed by their own ministries in the days before this.
It is a quite possible a consensus will not be reached on November 18, even if a 'fig-leaf' law on the treatment of prisoners abroad is passed in the Verkhovna Rada. [It has to be remembered that even if a law is passed, Tymoshenko wil have to submit a request to a judge for examination, medical evidence presented, approval sought from a recipient country etc.etc.]
The foreign ministers will be aware that failure will make virtually no difference to the EU's 500 million inhabitants, and may even be welcomed by those who consider that the EU has expanded eastward too quickly.