Recent "disturbing" political developments in Ukraine could stand in the way of a landmark political association and free trade deal with the European Union, the bloc's enlargement commissioner warned Wednesday, DPA reported.
"If we want to sign the association agreement - and I'm convinced we do as it is in our shared interest - the way forward for the authorities is not through bringing more and more disturbing news," Stefan Fule told the European Parliament.
Kiev hopes that the agreement - half a decade in the making and the first of its kind between the EU and an eastern neighbour - will be signed in November at an Eastern Partnership summit in Lithuania.
Two weeks after an EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels, developments in Ukraine "continue to present us with a paradox," Fule said, praising the "constructive atmosphere" of the summit and Kiev's "unequivocal commitments" to address democratic shortcomings and concerns over selective justice.
"Meanwhile there are a number of developments which go contrary to the commitments taken at the summit," the commissioner added.
In particular, he cited concerns over Kiev's recent decision to strip the lawyer of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko of his parliamentary seat, a move that has prompted the opposition to block parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
"The blockage of the Rada is a rather visual illustration of the state of play," Fule said.
This recent "backsliding" came on top of ongoing concerns over the cases of Timoshenko and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, the commissioner continued.
"Unless the cases of Yulia Timoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko are properly addressed, and there is sufficient confidence that there will be no more use of selective justice, we can hardly talk about conditions that are conducive for signing the association agreement," Fule warned.
He said the agreement was also in the interest of the 27-member EU, which would help Kiev in its reform process and show flexibility - up to a point.
"There is one area where we will not be making compromises, and those are the shared values and the shared principles, and they are at the very basis of this agreement," Fule said.
Timoshenko's lawyer, Sergey Vlasenko, had sought to attend the parliamentary debate Wednesday in the French city of Strasbourg, but Ukrainian authorities blocked his departure from the airport in Kiev, citing a November court order.