EU demands law reform, wants observer at Tymoshenko appeal
(STRASBOURG) - Improved ties between the EU and Ukraine depend on the former Soviet nation reforming its justice system, the EU said Tuesday as European officials suggested an observer attend ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko's appeal trial.
"Politically motivated justice is a systemic problem in Ukraine and it needs a systemic solution in the form of a comprehensive judicial reform," Stefan Fuele, the European Union's commissioner for enlargement, told the European parliament.
The commissioner also said he backed a proposal by parliament president Martin Schulz to send "an internationally recognised personality" respected in both the EU and Ukraine to observe Tymoshenko's upcoming appeals process and future trials.
Under the terms of a proposal set out in a letter from Schulz to Ukraine Prime Minister Mykola Azarov last week, the observer would be granted full access to judges, lawyers and documents.
As Tymoshenko's daughter Yevgenia looked on, members of the European parliament unfurled a giant banner saying "Freedom for Yulia" and depicting the jailed former premier, currently serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of power.
"The political relationship between the European Union and Ukraine will not improve without firm commitments and the effective demonstration that the rule of law and the respect for fundamental values are applied systematically in Ukraine," Fuele said.
"What we expect from Ukraine before we can once again move forward is firstly a concrete strategy to redress the effects of selective justice and prevent it from happening again."
The commissioner also told the parliament that Brussels wanted to see free and fair elections as well as the resumption of delayed reforms.
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, currently a European MP, said that he would try to see Tymoshenko when he visits Kharkiv on Friday to participate in a conference.
"I have asked for the right to visit Mrs. Tymoshenko in the clinic where she is being treated," he said, adding that during discussions with Tymoshenko's daughter Evgenia "we committed ourselves to getting justice for her mother."
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