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January 25, 2022

EU-Ukraine deal stalls on rights concerns

The EU says expanding energy and economic cooperation with Ukraine will in part depend on Kiev’s treatment of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to upi.com. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Monday following an EU-Ukraine meeting in Kiev the two sides have agreed on the terms of an “association agreement,” which seeks to implement a free trade area and broaden energy and transportation ties. But, he said, the EU won’t yet sign the deal because member states and the European Parliament have deep reservations about “political circumstances” in Ukraine, including “the risks of politically motivated justice.” The imprisonment of Tymoshenko “is the most striking example,” Van Rompuy said.

Current Ukrainian officials, including Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, said the deal created long-term economic problems for the country, though she and her Western allies have said the charges are politically motivated. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area are seen as vital steps in Ukraine’s economic integration into Europe.

It seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, human rights and the rule of law in the country, as well as improve its public finances and reform its electricity tariffs and gas pricing measures, thus encouraging investment in its energy sector. The failure of the sides to sign the association agreement at Monday’s summit brought a call for Yanukovych’s resignation from a political opposition leader. Andrii Parubii, an MP from the Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense Bloc, told local television the lack of an agreement showed Yanukovych isn’t committed to European-style democracy and is unfit to lead the country, the Ukrainian News Agency reported.

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