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Ukraine needs to comply with int’l norms in Timoshenko trial - Merkel

September 16, 2011, 21:32 UTC+3

Ukraine should comply with international legal norms in the trial of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko

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BERLIN, September 16 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine should comply with international legal norms in the trial of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel told Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich by phone on Wednesday.

A representative of the German government said on Friday that Merkel expressed concern about the Ukrainian authorities’ actions as regards the opposition. “The political rivalry must take place within free elections, while criminal laws should not be an instrument of the policy as regards political opponents,” she said.

In the opinion of Merkel, the EU support is based “on the common belief in the importance of the law-governed state, democracy and protection of human rights” and closer relations with the EU imply “the enhanced significance of these values.”

Ukraine is holding negotiations on the association agreement with the EU.

Ukraine hopes to complete negotiations on the association agreement with the European Union in October, Director of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s Political Affairs and Security Department Vasily Filipchuk said on September 13.

“Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich will visit Brussels in October. Hopefully, the sides will reach a compromise on the hitherto uncoordinated issues and announce the end of the negotiations then,” he said.

Kiev expects the free trade zone negotiations to end at their next round of September 19-23. “The last round of the negotiations will be held soon, and the negotiations will be over,” Filipchuk said.

It will take several months to translate the text of the association agreement, and the document will be signed and ratified after that. “The entire process will take one or two years,” the diplomat observed.

Ukraine may become a part of the European community by the end of this year, Yanukovich said in his address to the nation marking the 20th anniversary of independent Ukraine on August 23.

“Ukraine is a modern democratic law-governed high-tech country. It is an inseparable part of the civilized European space,” he said.

The president stressed that Ukraine would integrate into the European community soon. “I am confident that this idea unites all the Ukrainians,” he said.

He also does not doubt that “the association and free trade agreements with the EU will be signed this year.”

Earlier Yanukovich expressed the opinion in his article “20 Years of Ukraine: the Road Has Just Begun” for the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli. Ukraine.

The article said that the European choice had become the foundation of Ukraine’s foreign political identity.

“Time will come and Ukraine will be a member of the European Union and join the developed countries in ten years. I am sure that will be so,” the article said.

“In spite of all the problems, we have taken the main step: we have made a final decision about our future. The European choice has become the foundation of Ukraine’s foreign policy. European values have become the foundation of our development. We are confident that the Association Agreement and the document on forming a comprehensive and profound free trade zone are what Ukraine and the European Union need. Hopefully, our partners will understand that,” the president wrote.

“Ukraine not just wants to be a European country. We want to join the big European project of building common Europe based on the values of freedom, democracy and law. We want to join in at the difficult time, we are not seeking subsidies or concessions, we want possibilities and rights. We want to join in despite the hard pressure and deliberate slowing, and to share rights of equal partners. We want to join in for the sake of our common future,” he said.

Merkel was not the one to criticize Ukraine in the Timoshenko trial.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said on Friday that the guilty verdict would worsen EU-Ukraine relations.

If Timoshenko is convicted, Europe will be unable to guarantee the ratification of the association agreement with Ukraine, he said. The commissioner hinted that Yanukovich understood that.

Fule said that Europe did not set any conditions but reminded that the Eastern Partnership summit was planned for late September, while the Ukraine-EU summit would take place in December.

The commissioner and the Ukrainian president said in Yalta on Friday that the sides had made substantial progress and reached the final stage in the progress towards the association agreement. However, the quality of Ukraine-EU relations does not depend fully on the negotiations, he remarked.

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland also raised the Timoshenko question at the Kiev negotiations on Friday. He expressed the hope for a fair, open and transparent trial and stressed that the supremacy of law must be the fundamental guideline for the Ukrainian authorities.

The gas contracts signed by Ukraine and Russia in 2009 had a positive effect on gas deliveries to Europe, European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger told the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN in Brussels earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Ukraine seeks a review of the gas deal with Russia and accuses Timoshenko of the illegal signing of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that Timoshenko abused of office and caused more than 1.5 billion hryvni (about $200 million) damage to Ukraine.

Ukraine cannot secede from gas agreements with Russia signed by Yulia Timoshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told the court, as he was giving testimony in the Timoshenko case.

“When I read that agreement I could not believe it had been approved by the government. The terms of that document make unilateral secession practically impossible,” he said.

The penalty for taking less gas than contracted “is harmful for the national economy,” and the pricing formula set for the period of ten years is unprofitable, Azarov said.

“The agreement betrayed the country and caused an increase of public utility charges,” he concluded.

The Russia-Ukraine gas deal 2009 strictly complies with national laws, the Russian Foreign Ministry said immediately after the arrest of Timoshenko.

“Bearing in mind the decision of the Kiev Pechersky District Court to arrest Yulia Timoshenko who is accused by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office of exceeding her authority in the signing of contracts on Russian gas supply in 2009, the Russian Foreign Ministry states the following: all the gas agreements of 2009 were signed in strict compliance with the national laws of both states and international laws and their signing was preceded by instructions from the presidents of Russia and Ukraine,” the ministry said.

The trial of Timoshenko “must be fair and unbiased, meet every provision of Ukrainian laws and provide appropriate defense and compliance with elementary humanitarian norms and rules,” the ministry said.

Detectives have proven the culpability of Timoshenko in the gas case, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka told a press briefing in Donetsk earlier.

“I have no right to comment on new facts in the Yulia Timoshenko case, because the court is still considering them. Yet I can state that detectives have proven the culpability of Yulia Vladimirovna,” he said.

“The court found confirmation to the evidence collected by detectives. The detectives supplied a sufficient amount of materials for the court to decide whether Timoshenko is guilty or not,” Pshonka said.

Anyway, the court will bring this case to the end, he noted.

The Kiev Pechersky District Court repeatedly rejected the appeals for releasing Timoshenko from custody.

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