"I think they were afraid not that I wouldn’t return, but that I would return," Yulia Tymoshenko told reporters today before her latest round of questioning at the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Yulia Tymoshenko pointed out that her request was prepared according to current legislation and that all invitations from European politicians were translated into Ukrainian and notarized. "They are waiting for me at any moment and want to see me because there are a lot of problems that need to be discussed for Ukraine to stay on the path to the European Union," she said.
She has not decided if she will file another petition to travel. "We will consult with our team as to how to proceed," she explained.
As reported, the investigator for special cases at the Prosecutor General’s Office turned down Yulia Tymoshenko’s request to travel to Belgium, saying that investigative procedures were scheduled for the days she was to be abroad.
The reaction from Europe has been quite negative. MEP Mario David, an influential member of the European People’s Party, said he is very disappointed by the news that Yulia Tymoshenko was not allowed to travel abroad. "I’m afraid we have to express regret. It’s not a good signal in relations between Ukraine and the European union," he said.
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek also expressed disappointment to learn that he will not be able to meet with Yulia Tymoshenko in Brussels on Feb. 2. "President Jerzy Buzek wanted to meet with Mrs. Tymoshenko during her stay in Brussels to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the current state of relations between Ukraine and the EU in view of her leadership of the largest opposition party," said the spokesman for the European Parliament President, Robert Golanski.
"While fully respecting the judicial process, we regret the fact that, as a result of the restriction on travel upon Mrs. Tymoshenko, European institutions are unable to maintain their continuing dialogue with her in Brussels in the coming days,” said European Commission spokeswoman Natacha Butler. "Such discussions form part of the wider dialogue which the EU enjoys with all important stakeholders in Ukraine concerning the implementation of Ukraine's European agenda."
Meanwhile, former European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said he wants to hear the reason Yulia Tymoshenko wasn’t allowed to go to Brussels. "It’s a shame that Tymoshenko was forbidden from coming here, and we insist to know the reason: is there a political agenda, is this purely a legal issue, is there political influence on the law in Ukraine," he said.
MEP Pawel Kowal, chairman of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee in the European Parliament, believes Yulia Tymoshenko’s ban on visiting Brussels is a very bad signal. "It shows that Viktor Yanukovych’s team didn’t understand how important the government and opposition are for Ukraine’s positive image in the European Union," he said. "Attempts to exclude opposition leaders and politicians from public life have backfired on the current government."
MEP Jan Kozlowski, member of the European Parliament delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, says the decision to prohibit Yulia Tymoshenko from visiting Brussels violates the principles of democracy. "For me this isn’t just a sad decision, but a decision that raises concern. Such actions against political opponents violate democratic principles, and we can not accept such politically motivated pressure against an opposition leader," he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says the fact that Yulia Tymoshenko has not been allowed to fly to Brussels is unacceptable. "This wouldn’t have been possible in any European country under the circumstances that I can see," he said.
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