European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton have said they believe that the Ukrainian authorities should immediately stop the selective prosecution of political opponents in order to sign signing and ratify the association agreement and the agreement on the creation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA).
"Signing and ratifying the Association Agreement and the DCFTA will not be possible unless Ukraine urgently addresses this stark deterioration of democracy and the rule of law. In the immediate term, this applies to the above cases of selective justice and politically motivated prosecution. Solutions need to be found, enabling Ms. [former Prime Minister Yulia] Tymoshenko, Mr. [former Interior Minister Yuriy] Lutsenko and others to regain their freedom and fully participate in political life," the EC leaders said in an interview with the Razumkov Center, which was published on Friday.
They said that developments in Ukraine raise serious concerns and recalled the hopes that were placed on the development of the country a few years ago.
"In February 2010, we welcomed the holding of presidential election broadly in line with European standards. This gave hope that Ukraine was continuing her path of consolidating democracy, on which we had seen a very positive trend ever since early 2005. There was much to be hopeful about Ukraine," the politicians said.
"Regrettably, since 2010, we have been receiving recurring reports of deterioration of the freedom of the media and of assembly. Concerns were raised over the independence of the judiciary following the 2010 judicial reform. The 2004 constitutional reform, which was agreed as an effort to find a way out of the political crisis around the Orange Revolution, was overturned by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, after having been in force for over five years. Furthermore, the October 2010 local elections were broadly seen as representing deterioration from earlier elections," Barroso and Ashton said.
According to them, since last year, they have seen criminal cases, "which look politically motivated at worst and even at best are examples of selective prosecution, against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and other members of the former administration."
At the same time, the diplomats said that that all in all, the prospects of the EU-Ukraine relationship could be "very good."
"Sadly, we are now at a very difficult moment, and the key to moving forward in our relationship is in Kyiv, not Brussels. Our offer is on the table, as seen by the initialling of the Association Agreement. However, the value-base needed for political association appears absent. It is up to Ukraine to demonstrate political will by taking clear and concrete steps to reverse the negative trends we have seen since 2010," they said.