– Mr President, I should like to thank the Commissioner for presenting his view on Ukraine. It is important to send a clear message to the authorities and to the government in Ukraine because we can see what is happening in Ukraine in a broader perspective.
The European Union and the countries in the Eastern Partnership do share a European vision and European opportunities. The Eastern Partnership, with the hopes and promises about association agreements and deeper free trade agreements, was launched because these countries were moving towards democracy and the rule of law. The Eastern Partnership was meant to help them take these steps and benefit from deeper economic integration.
Now we can see a clear pattern in these countries. Compared to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the corresponding moves and calls for democracy that we saw at that time, we are seeing another pattern today. Commissioner, I very much appreciate the fact that you underlined that there must be confidence that there will be no more use of selective justice in Ukraine if the conditions for an association agreement are to be met. That is important and I think that is an important message to all of these countries.
Turning to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, we must be aware that this is not only a humanitarian problem. It is also a systemic and inherent problem for democracy in Ukraine. What should concern us is not only that, but the fact that it also seems as if the regime does not want to do anything about it. They have been moving in the wrong direction for far too long.
There is reason to be concerned about the escalation of human rights violations and the misuse of the judiciary for political purposes in Ukraine. Ukraine’s high court of appeal has removed the parliamentary immunity of two independent members of parliament who did not want to cooperate with the ruling party. Serhiy Vlasenko, a lawyer who is coordinating former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s defence in all politically motivated cases, has also been stripped of his parliamentary immunity. These are signs that Yanukovych’s ruling party is not doing what it should in order to meet the commitments made.
Furthermore, on Tuesday 12 February, Vitali Klitschko, the leader of the opposition party UDAR, called on the EU to introduce sanctions against the highest-ranking Ukrainian officials.
We see a pattern which we need to address in Ukraine and in a number of the other countries in the Eastern Partnership. Ukraine is at the centre of it, and the problem needs proper action. A clear message must be sent to Ukraine and those other countries, because otherwise we will see a dividing line of democracy and the rule of law, and Ukraine will not be in our part of Europe.