BRUSSELS, April 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
As European leaders lined up to praise the decision by Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych to pardon former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and other opposition figures, credit was also being given to the European Parliament's special envoys to Ukraine who have been engaged in 11 months of shuttle diplomacy.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, singled out for praise former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former EP President Pat Cox, who have made numerous visits to Ukraine, seeking solutions to the sensitive court cases.
"Fair and independent justice is needed in Ukraine, and the release of Mr. Lutsenko is a step in the right direction," Schulz said on Sunday.
Calling the pardons an encouraging move, Schulz said "I wish to deeply thank presidents Cox and Kwasniewski for their efforts in securing the pardon and release of Yuriy Lutsenko." He added that their commitment had "ensured that Yuriy Lutsenko is a free man who can enjoy his first night in years with his family."
Despite recent skepticism about the value of the mission expressed by some in the EP, Cox and Kwasniewski have persevered, holding frequent talks with both President Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Their efforts to find a solution to the Tymoshenko were continuing, Mr. Schulz said.
However, a spokesman for Yanukovych noted that while in the Lutsenko case all court proceedings had concluded, in the Tymoshenko case he cannot issue a pardon until her legal options are exhausted. She is appealing against her 2011 abuse of office conviction at the European Court for Human Rights.
For his part, Kwasniewski said "I am happy because this is a success of our mission, which we have consistently carried out with Pat Cox since May 2012. We have visited Ukraine over 10 times, had negotiations with the President, PM, the opposition. I think this pardon was one of the most important themes of our negotiations and is evidence of Ukraine seriously thinking about the association with EU and really willing to sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius."
Kwasniewski noted that the pardon of Lutsenko now "removes one of the obstacles in negotiations between Ukraine and EU".
SOURCE Ukraine Monitor