Merkel leads EU calls for Ukraine to reform

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Associated Press

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 1:32 PM

BRUSSELS (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday led European Union calls for Ukraine to reform its judicial system beyond the case of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko before the bloc signs any association agreement with Kiev.

Merkel called on Ukraine to take "credible steps" to overcome politically motivated "selective justice" ahead of next week's summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the EU is slated to sign a landmark deal with Ukraine.

On top of judicial reform, the 28 EU members also want to see changes in Ukraine's electoral legislation.

Monday's calls set off a week of intense lobbying during which three high-level EU envoys will be in Kiev during Tuesday's parliamentary session on the fate on Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yanukovych will meet with some EU leaders.

Germany has insisted that the continued imprisonment of Tymoshenko is putting the whole project of rapprochement in danger. It believes that her jailing was politically motivated.

"It is not yet clear whether Ukraine is willing to create the conditions for a signature," Merkel told the German parliament in Berlin, saying she would not be appeased with "lip service."

The EU nations have already given Ukraine more time to find a solution for the fate of Tymoshenko and negotiations could go right up to the start of the Nov. 28-29 summit in Vilnius.

The EU hopes Ukraine's parliament will push through laws this week to meet their concerns over the prosecutor's office and electoral conditions.

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox have been working for months to settle differences and will continue their efforts up to the start of next week's summit.

"Cox and Kwasniewski are still working and as long as they are working" a solution is possible, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said.

"Everything is in the hands of President Yanukovych," Bildt said. "We have a policy. I am not quite certain that he has a policy."

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Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert

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