Peter Lesniak is an independent Foreign Affairs Analyst concentrating on Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Part 3/3: Why EU diplomacy measures will fail.
In previous parts of the series, we have focused on precise allegations against Julia Tymoshenko, continuous postponement of her process and why the former Ukrainian PM refuses treatment while in detention.
Let’s now consider the EU approach to the case and why it is likely to fail.
Renat Kuzmin, the first deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine and a man responsible for the case of Tymoshenko was on the official visit to UK earlier this year. I was fortunate to attend several meetings with him.
He comes across as an honest man looking for viable political solution in the fight for transparency in the Ukrainian legislature.
One of the most productive meetings was held in the very heart of UK Parliament with Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat party.
It was per Mr Hughes’s suggestion that Renat Kuzmin recommends to the acting prime minister of Ukraine, Mykola Azarov, to raise the issue at an EU level and request a number of international observers to attend the final case hearing. Following Azarov’s suggestion, the EU Council decided to send former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox – the former President of the European Parliament.
As many as the reasons behind sending international observers are correct, and should indeed be encouraged, in the circumstances of this case, it feels like knocking one’s head against a brick wall. First, to have productive input to the Ukrainian legislation system, we should not only analyse procedures in this one circumstance, but thoroughly analyse the procedures during the whole process of a selection of cases.
Most importantly however, to ensure the quality of monitoring and to apply practical recommendations, long-term observers would have to be deployed to overlook court hearings, treatment in detention facilities and abuses of human rights.
Moreover, such a delegation should consist of practicing and experienced international lawyers rather than former heads of state and politicians.
To summarise this in the words of the Ukrainian lawyer:
“We have to recognize that we are clever, and good enough to cheat over this short period of time”.
Sadly, it is not enough to direct international focus solely on the case of Tymoshenko. Endemic corruption is still a problem and Ukrainians experience abuse of power on a daily basis. Lack of an independent judiciary and the absence of transparent election procedures only culminate in an all too common feeling of disengagement in society.
I foresee no major change of political force after elections in October. Until Yanukovych’s party create a credible opposition and encourage an electorate that votes for his bloc, every election will instill a majority that would support its own self-interest and enforce the political status quo.
This is the very reason that the problem of corruption, and everything that flows from it cannot be solved through external means of soft EU diplomacy.
It has to be an internal shift of power with fundamental change of political behaviour balanced with broader societal involvement and support for more transparency. Only when the conditions exist for a transparent legislature and judiciary can fruitful democracies develop.