There are only several weeks left till the summit "Eastern partnership" in Vilnius, and it is time to see whether Ukraine has done its "homework". "Diploma pre-defense", however, is already in progress with EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement and European neighbourhood policy Stefan Fule visiting Kyiv with a humanitarian mission. What are the conclusions the EU official may come to?

Signing of the Association agreement and creation of the free trade area enter final straight. The government of Ukraine has already approved the draft EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, but there are still three tasks left to fulfill before the summit in Vilnius. During roundtables, meetings and conferences Fule repeatedly announced that Ukraine indeed had made a significant progress, but not all EU requirements had been met. In particular, Fule insisted that Ukraine had to adopt legislation on elections and on the prosecutor’s office considering relevant recommendations of the Venice Commission, and, of course, to settle Tymoshenko's case. 

Listening to Europe's instructions, supporters of the European integration start worrying whether Ukraine will come up to the deadline.  The authorities assure it will. In particular, leader of the Party of Regions faction Oleksandr Yefremov personaly assured Fule that the law "On prosecutor's office" and  the draft bill on "Amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine for the improvement of election legislation" would be adopted in time.

However, Yefremov noted that recommendations of the Venice Commission and some of its innovations gave rise to contradictions. "Some of the ideas cause surprise, and many MPs believe that if the law is adopted as it is, even a serial killer will have a chance to be elected to the parliament," the MP summed up.

To remind, earlier on Ukrainian politicians and experts already criticized some of the EU propositions on improvement of election legislation. In particular, many MPs believe it inexpedient to lower vote threshold from 5% to 3%, as recommended by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Deputies also do not support the proposition to enlarge the power vested in territorial election committees, as they work on a non-permanent basis and their staff include regular people, not professionals on election law.

In other words, some propositions are unfit for Ukraine, and if adopted may obstruct transparent and democratic process of voting. Is it a dead-end? Not at all. And head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Jan Tombinski clearly specified that. "Development of election legislation is a sovereign right of Ukraine. However, after the adoption of amendments the law must remain consistent for everyone to work within legal framework. The recommendations of foreign experts are just a basis to start with, but they are not the Bible," Tombinski explained.

Meantime, the third task is not so easy to solve. However, the Ukrainian side pledges to seek ways to settle the situation with ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko. "The case of Yulia Tymoshenko remains a pressing issue, but the mission of Cox-Kwasniewski keeps working; we cooperate and seek ways together..." President Viktor Yanukovych said.

Tymoshenko's colleague, head of the "Motherland" faction in the parliament Arseniy Yatseniuk is convinced that Yulia Volodymyrovna must be understood, forgiven and set free: either pardoned or sent abroad for treatment.  According to Yatseniuk, Tymoshenko can be freed following the example of former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko: be pardoned by the President. Moreover, Arseniy Petrovych says it time and again that the law on healthcare provides for every citizen of Ukraine, including a convict, to receive medical assistance and that one political decision is enough to settle all legal contradictions.    

However, representatives of the ruling majority insist that a separate law is needed to enable Tymoshenko to undergo treatment in Germany. Moreover, they say they agree to pass such law, though have now intention to work it out themselves, but are waiting for the opposition to come forward with an initiative and ready to cooperate. At the same time, Oleksandr Yefremov underlined that such law must be developed not for one person, but for a group of people, convicted in our country but needing treatment abroad. Moreover, the law should not become a loophole to avoid responsibility. "If a convict goes abroad for treatment, it must be treatment, not vacation. The law must stipulate certain guarantees and liabilities for violations. Besides, we must think of guarantees a receiving state must provide taking a convict for treatment," Yefremov summed up.  

The idea of cooperation has been welcome by Ukrainian speaker Volodymyr Rybak as well. "Both the power and opposition should sit and work on the law. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The speaker has a case here. In unity there is strength, and if there is a will to accomplish last three euro-tasks, it will be possible regardless of any complications.

Yulia Artamoshchenko


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