EU engages Ukrainian opposition

BRUSSELS, March 24 (UPI) -- Engagement between Kiev and the European Union requires a strong relationship with Ukrainian opposition leaders, a European commissioner said.

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko met in Brussels with Stefan Fule, the European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy.


A Kiev court ruled in early February that Tymoshenko couldn't leave the country to visit European leaders, though the prosecutor's office in Kiev recently lifted the ban. Fule said Kiev shouldn't use criminal law for politics ends, noting Ukrainian leaders are obligated to respect democratic principles and the rule of law.

"We agreed that the process of shaping reforms for Ukraine's rapprochement with the EU needs the engagement of the opposition," added Fule.

The European Union discussed in early March a free trade agreement and the conditions of a $660 million financial aid package.

Tymoshenko in a statement posted on her Web site said the opposition must play an active role in European talks.

"The new government wants to disrupt this process, but we don't let them," she said.

Tymoshenko is accused of misusing federal funds during her tenure as prime minister. Critics say the accusation is part of a smear campaign meant to diminish complaints about President Viktor Yanukovych.


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