Ukraine to Debate Tymoshenko Bill to Save EU Deal
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday was set to debate a bill to let jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko go abroad for treatment in a last-ditch attempt to save a crucial deal with the European Union.
Parliament was expected to discuss Tymoshenko's fate during its Tuesday session after the EU warned that time was running out to agree the legislation ahead of a summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.
EU leaders have said allowing Tymoshenko to go abroad to receive medical treatment was a key condition for Kiev signing the Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, AFP reported.
In 2011, Tymoshenko, the fiery opposition leader who rose to fame during the 2004 Orange Revolution and is an arch-rival to current President Viktor Yanukovych, was sentenced to seven years in prison on abuse of power charges, prompting international criticism of the case as politically motivated.
She is being treated for long-standing back problems in a hospital outside her jail and Germany has offered her medical care.
Ukraine's parliament last week failed to agree a text enabling detainees like Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical treatment and there are fears the deal with the EU could flop amid pressure on Kiev from Russia, which wants it to join its own Customs Union.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag on Monday: "I have to say today that it is not yet certain whether Ukraine is willing to fulfil the criteria for a possible association agreement."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also warned on Monday that "time is running out" after talks with his 27 EU counterparts. He said Ukraine should "act now."
Yanukovych this month held a mysterious meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The parliament dominated by Yanukovych's Regions Party then last week held an extraordinary session that failed to hold a vote on the legislation allowing convicts to go abroad for treatment.