The Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) has removed from its resolution on "Keeping political and criminal responsibility separate" any mentioning of any concrete country, thus withdrawing the cases of former premier Yulia Tymoshenko and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko from the text and limiting to general recommendations.

A total of 79 parliamentarians out of 86 supported the amendments proposed by the committee for political issues and democracy last week in Strasbourg. The resolution was supported unanimously.

In particular, the following paragraph was removed: "Concerning Ukraine, the criminal cases brought against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko have given rise to severe criticism from the international community. The committee is deeply troubled by the manner in which the country’s criminal justice system has been abused in order to persecute political opponents. It considers that in both these cases, the principles of the separation of political and criminal responsibility have been violated."

Instead of mentioning certain names and countries the Assembly "urges governing majorities in member States to refrain from abusing the criminal justice system for the persecution of political opponents and invites the legislative bodies of those member States whose criminal law still includes broad abuse-of-office provisions to consider abolishing or redrafting such provisions, with a view to limiting their scope in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission".

The paragraph, in which the Assembly called upon Ukrainian authorities to take measures for provisions of effective and independent judicial branch, has also been removed and replaced with the paragraph, in which PACE "urges the competent authorities of those member States which have been condemned for violation of Article 18 of the Convention (prohibition of misuse of power in restricting the rights and freedoms) to take specific measures to ensure the effective independence of the judiciary and speedily and comprehensively execute the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights".

So, what does the PACE decision mean for Ukraine and how can it influence future signing of the Association agreement? ForUm has asked political scientists and MPs...

Oleksandr Yefremov, MP, head of the Party of Regions faction:

- You know, it is hard to tell whether the resolution will influence the signing of the Association agreement with the EU. I know we need to improve our standards to reach the level of EU standards, but our problems is that we often claim one thing but do not fulfill it when adopt relevant laws. Sometimes the laws, which must be adopted, are not popular, but necessary, and until we understand it no agreements will be able to improve the living standards in our country. First we need to overcome the inner barrier, and then start bringing our legislation in line with the European   one. That's exactly what we are doing now.

Vadym Karasyov, political scientist, director of the Institute of global strategies:

- This event should be considered as a signal from the Council of Europe for Ukraine to enter final straight of  the signing of the Association agreement. It means there are no serious obstacles for summit in Vilnius to be held. I believe the summit will be successful for both Ukraine and the EU, and it is quite possible that the parties will sign both the Association agreement and the Free Trade Agreement.

Ivan Popesku, MP (Party of Regions faction), head of the permanent delegation to PACE:

- On our part we have done everything possible for Ukraine not be criticized in PACE resolution. Thus, we can expect that the summit "Eastern partnership", scheduled for November of this year, will be a success.

Why was resolution supported unanimously? I believe EU parliamentarians are tired of Ukrainian opposition, what it says and what it does. First PACE supported our opposition, and resolution of 2012 reflected it, but since them the authorities have adopted new Criminal Procedure Code, new law on "Advocacy" and are working on the draft bill "On public prosecution" and changes to the Constitution. PACE sees that Ukrainian authorities take certain steps, and Europe does not want to politicize the situation on the eve of Vilnius summit.

Volodymyr Rybak, speaker of the parliament:

- On our part we still have some draft bills to discuss and adopt. This week we will adopt five principle draft bills on European integration. As for two draft bills on amendments to the system of public prosecution and election legislation, we will consider them after the decision of Venice Commission. Conclusions of the Commission are expected in September. Thus, we will fulfill all our promises.

Volodymyr Fesenko, director of the Center for applied political research "Penta":

- PACE parliamentarians were looking for a trade-off alternative of the document and they have found it. It was made in order not to provoke conflicts with Ukraine and Georgia on the eve of the Vilnius summit, as our countries are the key partners in the eastern partnership policy of the EU.

Of course, signing of the Association agreement does not depend on the PACE resolution, as the EU and Council of Europe are two different organization. However, representatives of the EU and "Eastern partnership" counties work both in the Council of Europe and PACE. The parties just wanted to find a compromise on the matter. In my opinion, the goal of the resolution not to promote the summit, but to avoid conflicts.

Vitaly Bala, political scientist, director of the Agency of simulated events:

- The message that the adopted PACE resolution is a big success for Ukraine and the ruling party and that the EU has made concessions to Ukraine is not quite correct. The authorities and opposition just comment on this event as they see fit, it is understandable.  

However, the positive side is that the EU still hopes to reach understanding with Ukraine and to solve problematic issues. At the same time, I think that without Tymoshenko's release the ratification of the Association agreement and free trade area will not happen. The document might be signed, but hardly ratified.


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