Cox-Kwasniewski Report

Oct 16, 2013, 09:47 ET from EU Ukraine Business Council

BRUSSELS, October 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Former European Parliament Presidents Cox and Kwasniewski delivered today their report on the Yulia Tymoshenko case to the European Parliament's Council of Presidents at an in camera session.

The Conference decided to prolong the mission of Presidents Cox and Kwasniewski until 14 November and supported their recommendation for a partial pardon for Yulia Tymoshenko to allow her to leave the country to seek medical treatment in a hospital outside Ukraine.

The European Parliament has extended the mission of envoys, former European Parliament President Pat Cox and Aleksander Kwasniewski to Ukraine until the middle of next month.

This emerged after former Irish MEP Cox and ex-Polish President Kwasniewski submitted a draft report on 15 October to the European Parliament's president Martin Schulz and the other EU institutions.

They also met privately with leaders from the main political groups in the Parliament, including the European People's Party and Socialists, although their findings were not immediately made public.

However, a senior parliamentary insider confirmed reports that in their report, Cox and Kwasniewski had recommended that Ukraine allows the jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment as a condition of the 28-member bloc signing a major trade deal with Ukraine later this year.

The source said the two-man mission, which had been mandated by the Parliament to look into her case, had also recommended that Tymoshenko be granted a presidential pardon.

The report by Cox and Kwasniewski on selective justice could have a major impact on member states' willingness to sign the trade and political agreements with Ukraine on 28-29 November at a summit in Vilnius.

The well-placed parliamentary source said the potential compromise allowing Tymoshenko to leave for Germany was the main finding of the EU mission.

In the report, both men are believed to have repeated their assertion that Tymoshenko should be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.

The source said, "These are the principle findings of the mission, albeit interim, and that is why their mandate has been slightly extended until next month."

"However, the mission has clearly raised hopes of finding a way to free Tymoshenko. If that happens, it would eliminate a major obstacle to Ukraine's closer integration with the European Union."

The news comes after the European Union's enlargement commissioner said on Tuesday he expects Ukraine to allow Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment before the summit is held.

"I think we are not far away from that," Stefan Fuele said when asked if Tymoshenko was close to being allowed to go to Germany.

"I definitely expect that to have happened before the Vilnius summit."

If released without a pardon for treatment in Germany - the former premier would still face a long legal effort to reverse her conviction.

She is awaiting an appeal ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Whether the compromise would allow Tymoshenko's near-term return to politics is less certain.

Her supporters want her conviction for alleged abuse of office overturned through a presidential pardon, a court ruling or legislation. This would allow her to register as a candidate for presidential elections in 2015.

Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovich, who narrowly beat Tymoshenko in the 2010 presidential poll, has given no sign he is willing to go that far.

Cox and Kwasniewski have been seeking to resolve the issue of 'selective justice' for months.

Their pro-bono diplomacy, instigated at the suggestion of Martin Schulz, a German MEP, is viewed in diplomatic and EU circles as having been crucial to the pardoning of two former Ukraine ministers this April. One of the two - Heorhiy Filipchuk - had already been released on parole, but the other, Yuriy Lutsenko, was in prison.

Tymoshenko's case has been considerably more complex, in part because of widespread public feeling that there were legitimate grounds to doubt the legality of a huge and opaque gas deal with Russia struck during Tymoshenko's premiership.

It has been complicated also by allegations of mistreatment of her in prison.

Cox's and Kwasniewski's mission has led to significant changes in the conditions that she enjoys although a back problem she developed during her imprisonment remained an important obstacle.

Tymoshenko, a bitter rival of Yanukovych, was jailed for seven years in 2011 for abuse of office after what the European Union and Western governments said was a political trial.

At a public conference later the same day in the European Parliament former Polish President Kwasniewski said that he believed the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine would be signed in November and that the signing of the agreement would be a breakthrough in EU Ukraine relations.

He said that this agreement will become the strategic framework for co-operation with the Ukrainian authorities for the coming decades. There were however obstacles to the signing of the agreement, namely the requirement to release Yukia Tymoshenko and improvements in respect of reform of the judiciary and electoral law.

Commenting on the Cox-Kwasniewski Report, Founding Director of the EU Ukraine Business Council James Wilson decried the fact that the findings of the report remained confidential and had not been made publicly available.

"There are high profile public policy issues at stake, and it is fundamentally wrong not to make public the findings of this long investigative process," he said. "There are different political points of view on the way forward, but from a business perspective we want clarity and we want legal certainty, not political soup."

High level politicians such as Elmar Brok MEP and Jacek Saryusz-Wolski MEP have expressed the view that the EU should not sign the draft Association agreement with Ukraine unless the Ukrainian Government releases former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

"What business wishes to see is clarity and certainty'’ said James Wilson. "If the political leadership of Europe wishes to make the Tymoshenko issue a deal breaker, then we need to know about it as people need to stand up and be counted."

"Of course, as responsible businesses, we cannot take sides, but we need to deal responsibly with the government of the day and give the best advice that we can," he said.

"The EU Ukraine Business Council is fully supportive of the early signature of the EU Ukraine Association Agreement, but not at any price. We wish to see Ukraine take its place in the European family of democracies with the full respect and support of the leaders of the Member States of the EU, and it is for the political leadership of those countries to determine what those requirements should be."

Commenting on the statement by Mr Saryusz-Wolski that Tymoshenko must be released or the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine would not be signed, James Wilson said: "The demand from Europe's political leaders is clear. Ukraine must comply with this political requirement or pay the consequences. Business must always respect the majority political will of the ruling government. To oppose this is commercial ruin and folly."

Rebecca Harms, who was among those who attended the private briefing with Cox and Kwasniewski, said, "This latest delegation to Ukraine has again underlined the urgent need to release Yulia Tymoshenko. The disturbing conditions of her detention have long been clear, something I experienced when visiting her at the prison hospital in Kharkov in June 2012.

"With a potential decision on the association agreement just weeks away, the release of Yulia Tymoshenko on the basis of the compromise negotiated by Cox and Kwasniewski would smooth the way for both sides. Hopefully, President Yanukovych will yield. The association agreement would help promote democratic and economic development in Ukraine. The EU must also insist that the Kiev government is clearly committed to the rule of law."

SOURCE EU Ukraine Business Council