Bloomberg News

EU Officials Voice Concern on Ukraine Opposition Detention

September 30, 2011

(Updates with comment from Tusk in last paragraph.)

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- European Union officials said they were concerned about the two-month detention of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

“We expressed our concerns about the fate of the former prime minister and we expressed our rejection of a possible selective use of criminal judicial measures against members of the previous administration,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters in Warsaw today after a meeting of EU and eastern European leaders.

Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution, has remained in police detention since being arrested on Aug. 5 in connection with a claim by public prosecutors that her government agreed to pay too much for deliveries of Russian natural gas in 2009.

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said in a statement after Tymoshenko’s detention that the bloc expected “high standards” from countries seeking closer ties with it. European Commission President Jose Barroso was today more forceful, saying the EU wants the issue “to be settled.”

While Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said yesterday he wants to sign an Association Agreement this year with the EU in an effort to steer the former Soviet state toward membership, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the EU was observing the treatment of Tymoshenko closely and that the case could prove a hitch to improved links with the 27-nation bloc.

“We want to help Ukraine in its aspirations,” Tusk said at a press conference with the EU leaders today. “But the poor treatment of opposition members makes closer ties more difficult.”

--Editors: Jennifer M. Freedman, Jeffrey Donovan

To contact the reporters on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net; Katya Andrusz in Warsaw at kandrusz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net; Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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