Catherine Ashton: Ukraine must respect rule of law
Dec. 24, 2011, 4:53 p.m. | Politics
— by Reuters
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton
BRUSSELS, Dec 24 (Reuters) - The European Union's foreign policy chief said on Saturday that she regretted the failed appeal of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and reminded the former Soviet republic that respect for the rule of law was essential for better EU ties.
Catherine Ashton said in a statement that she was concerned that a Ukrainian appeals court had upheld the guilty verdict and seven-year jail term, adding that the appeals process had not adequately addressed failings of the original trial.
Ashton said she regretted that Tymoshenko would be prevented from participating in next year's parliamentary elections.
"The issue of selective justice in Ukraine continues to require attention," she said.
Tymoshenko, a fierce opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich, was sentenced in October for overstepping her powers in forcing through a gas deal with Russia in 2009.
The European Union this week put off signing agreements on political association and free trade with Ukraine, saying Ukraine first needed to resolve the case of the jailed opposition leader.
"The High Representative also notes the conclusion, in the joint statement of the EU-Ukraine Summit of 19 December, that respect for the Rule of Law will be critically important for the speed of Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the EU," Ashton's statement said.