Well having had the restriction on her travel waved for Tymoshenko to attend the EPP Summit, aside from picking up a few things at Duty Free, a few free lunches/dinners and two nights in Brussels, how well did it go for Ms Tymoshenko and how badly did it go for the current authorities? Did she get her EPP association party membership fees worth from the Summit?
We should start with the statement made by EPP President Wilfried Martens.
“Unfortunately, Ukraine is marching backward from the important goals of democratization, Europeanization and modernization. If this continues, this direction is running a risk to become totally incompatible with the declared intention to move closer to the European Union within the framework of the association agreement,” he said.
Martens said that “the EPP is deeply concerned that there is growing evidence that Ukraine’s judicial system and law enforcement agencies are increasingly used by the Ukrainian authorities as a political instrument for the harassment and intimidation of the opposition, civil society and the media.”
“The EPP calls on [Ukrainian] President [Viktor] Yanukovych and the Ukrainian authorities to remedy the situation and to guarantee an inclusiveness and openness of political space in Ukraine,” he said.
In this connection, Martens said that the issue concerned the period of preparation for the next parliamentary elections that are to be held in Ukraine in 2012.
He expressed hope that these elections would meet the aspirations of the Ukrainian people with respect to active and effective democratic governance.
“Against this background, the EPP urges President Yanukovych to avoid temptation to change the law on parliamentary elections in a non-transparent way to benefit his own political party and his political calculations,” Martens said.
He also noted that “the EPP reiterates its full support and solidarity with its sister party Batkivschyna and its leader Yulia Tymoshenko.”
Martens said that “it would be a terrible betrayal of most Ukrainian people if their dreams of a truly European future are denied by rigged elections and politically motivated prosecutions.”
“The EPP stands with Ukraine’s democracy,” he said.
All very partisan and pro the EPP associated member and citing the same concerns that they repeatedly cite when Ms Tymoshenko needs some external support. That is not to say they are wrong, but it is nothing new and thus far for all their bluster it has altered nothing either.
The two main problems with this speech are firstly, as I have said it is the same as the last time they made a statement on behalf of Tymoshenko and secondly (and most importantly) there are very few people in Ukraine who know who Wilfried Martens is.
Whilst decorum dictates that Mr Martens as EPP President should have given this speech, the impact in Ukraine will be zero. If one of the more known names of the EPP, Ms Merkle or Mr Sarkozy had made this statement then the impact would have been much greater with the Ukrainian public.
Instead of just someone from Europe saying this, it would have been a someone from Europe saying it. It is all about impact and public recognition. It is why charities have pop-stars as figureheads.
Moving onto Stephan Fuele and his official statement, there seems to be little comfort in there for Ms Tymoshenko.
“Today I met with Mrs Yulia Tymoshenko in Brussels. It was the second time we met this year. Strong relations with Ukraine require continuous contacts with all main political forces.
We agreed that the process of shaping reforms for Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU needs the engagement of the opposition. As leader of the opposition, Mrs Tymoshenko stressed she would play a constructive role in this regard in particular on the election code, which we discussed at length. Inclusiveness and maximum transparency in the reforms of the constitution, the election code and the judiciary are essential.
As regards EU-Ukraine relations, we reiterated the determination to pursue positive results which are in the interest of all Ukrainians. As already indicated in Kiev earlier this year, I hope to conclude negotiations on the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area in the course of this year.
I informed Mrs Tymoshenko of the recent progress in this regard. The first months of 2011 have born some additional fruit with the recent signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on the National Indicative Programme for Ukraine of 470 millions € for the next three years.
I reiterated to Mrs Tymoshenko the need for criminal law not be used for political ends. I highlighted that respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are fundamental principles that bind us together. These principles cannot be compromised. The pace and depth of our rapprochement with Ukraine will be determined by full respect for these values.”
Whilst she may take some comfort from the last paragraph, it can also be seen as a polite warning for her to stop using it as a political tool herself.
The rest generally seem upbeat about how well things are progressing between the current government and the EU.
What did Herman Van Rumpoy have to say?
Not much comfort for her here either.
He supported the readiness of Tymoshenko as the leader of the largest opposition party in Ukraine to develop constructive cooperation with European institutions for the sake of successfully completing the negotiation process and signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in 2011.
Van Rompuy thanked Tymoshenko for her efforts in the sphere of European integration and expressed confidence that cooperation would continue, in particular, during a meeting between Tymoshenko and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso during his visit to Ukraine in April 2011.
Aside from a predictable partisan statement from the EPP President who enjoys the same name recognition of my mother in Ukraine, the two people with slightly better name recognition (but far less than Merkle or Sarkozy) have not really provided her with an ammunition to shoot at the current administration.
Maybe that accounted for the following statement from Ms Tymoshenko.
“A European-style Ukraine is more important than its government. I appreciate the fact that European leaders understand this and support cooperation with representatives of the opposition and civil society,” she said.
Of course we do not know what was said privately, but private conversations do not influence Ukrainian public opinion. It seems her place in the scheme of things may well have been explained by those whose signatures will be adorning documents between the EU and Ukraine this year along side those of signatures Yanukovych and Azarov……..and not hers…….despite those foreign signatories for the EU residing under the same EPP umbrella she does.
Did she get what she expected from the EPP Summit? – Aside from something from Duty Free and a few free (or at least subsidised by BYuT association fees to the EPP), lunches and dinners of course.