International Herald Tribune

Crunch Time for Kiev on Europe

President Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine is close to achieving a key foreign policy goal: signing an association agreement with the European Union at the Vilnius summit meeting in November that would deepen his country’s integration with Europe. But he is not there yet. Releasing the jailed opposition leader Yulia V. Tymoshenko would guarantee a signing. Keeping her in prison risks gambling with Ukraine’s future.

On Oct. 4, the former European Parliament President Pat Cox and former President Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland announced that Tymoshenko has accepted a proposal to travel to Germany for medical treatment. They have asked Yanukovich to release her from prison.

Addressing the annual Yalta European Strategy Conference on Sept. 20, Yanukovich reaffirmed the importance he attaches to signing the association agreement. He showed no flexibility, however, regarding Tymoshenko, who was arrested in 2011 and convicted on charges of abuse of power in a case that was widely seen as politically motivated.

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