Ukraine 'Committed' to EU, Brussels Snubs Joint Summit over Tymoshenko

Bulgaria in EU | May 9, 2012, Wednesday // 18:56|  views

Supporters of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko hold her portraits as they sit near a hospital, where Tymoshenko is being treated in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 09 May 2012. EPA/BGNES

Ukraine has declared its commitment to the "European values" on May 9, Day of Europe, just at about the same time when Brussels snubbed Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov over the imprisonment of ex PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ukraine is dedicated to European values but will continue to cooperate with post-Soviet countries, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on Wednesday.

"European values remain immutable for Ukraine," he said, as cited by RIA Novosti, adding, "We open the doors to all of our partners and friends, building bridges with new centers of growth."

The Ukrainian authorities have said European integration is the nation's main foreign policy priority; at the same time Moscow has invited Kiev to join the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union, promising preferential energy prices as an incentive. However, Kiev is so far only ready to cooperate within the "3+1" format, the Russian news agency notes.

"We are developing new effective and mutually beneficial models of cooperation with the EurAsEC and CIS countries.Ukraine's historical fate is connected to Europe and Russia. Our actions are crucial for the future development of our continent," Ukraine's President Yanukovych said.

At about the same time on Wednesday, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov should not come to Brussels for a meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council on May 15, due to the situation surrounding the sentencing of West-leaning ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko.

"[When] the Prime Minister of Ukraine announced he would come to Brussels, we said: 'Stay home!' It is a clear signal from our side that they have to change inside Ukraine. Ukraine was a model of democracy in 2004 and it has to become that once again," Van Rompuy said, as cited by Euronews.

"The way Ukraine is dealing with the former Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, is just unacceptable. We have said this very clearly, very clearly to President Yanukovych. When once the Ukrainian prime minister announced his intention to visit Brussels, we told him "don't come, stay at home," Rompuy added.

Rompuy said he does not have plans to go to the Euro 2012 tournament. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany would boycott the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine, which is co-hosting the soccer tournament with Poland. The EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said they would follow suit.

"I will not attend the tournament because there is no European team and Belgium has not qualified. But in any case, we can give a very strong political message," Rompuy said.

Five EU presidents, including Germany's Joachim Gauck, said they would not be traveling to a summit in Ukraine's Black Sea resort of Yalta this week. Kiev had to cancel the summit. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry explained the decision by the fact that some European leaders have refused to come because of the situation around Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko has been sentenced to seven years in jail for abuse of power for making a natural gas supply contract with Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after the 2009 Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis, which is said to have been unfavorable for Ukraine.

The jailed ex Prime Minister claims that her political rival, President Viktor Yanukovych, is using the country's judiciary to punish her. She denies wrongdoing and says she is being persecuted by President Viktor Yanukovych.

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Tags: Yulia Tymoshenko, EU, EC, European Commission, European Union, Russia, gas crisis, 2009, gas war, Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister, EU President, EU Council, European Council, Mykola Azarov, Ukrainian Prime Minister, Ukrainian President, Eurasian Union, Russia, Viktor Yanukovich, Viktor Yanukovych


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