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Europe

Vilnius result 'choice of a sovereign government'

The former European Parliament president, Pat Cox, talks about the monitoring mission to Ukraine in an interview with DW. He says the mission was a success even if no deal has been reached yet.

Pat Cox is a former European Parliament President. Along with former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski he has led the monitoring mission to Ukraine.

DW: In the final declaration and in the final statements and the press conference your mission with Mr. Kwasniewski was not mentioned. Do you feel ithat that's not fair? Because you have done a good job.

Pat Cox: Absolutely no. Please understand that what Kwasniewski and myself are doing we're doing as a public, spirited voluntary engagement. We are not looking for pay, which we don't get. We are not looking for glory. What we were looking for was a successful outcome and we are disappointed that at this time this was not the day for that outcome.

But I can tell you that at the summit meeting itself, the meeting ended with a unanimous round of applause and the appreciation of the mission. I must say we are deeply gratified that the work we've done has been recognized.

Why do you think the mission didn't work out?

I wouldn't characterize it as that - [Ukrainian] Prime Minister [Mykola] Azarov sent a letter to [EU Parliament] President [Martin] Schulz. I don't know if the president intends at any stage to publish that letter. But that sets out many paragraphs regarding the effectiveness of the mission and the achievements, which are real.

That the mission in the end did not today see a signature here in Vilnius is not frankly the business of the mission. This was the choice of a sovereign government in the end not to do that. And no mission - however engaged it is - is entitled to suppose to overwrite the sovereign will of a free government.

We were last week surprised and - I can tell you - disappointed that at so late at stage it was announced that there was a delay but it appears that, at least in some part, the economic pressure short-term arising from specific Russian policy choices aimed at specific enterprises particularly in southern and eastern Ukraine, the party base and the party regions of President Yanukovych, appears to have caused or forced the Ukrainian authorities to pause for more thought.

When Yanukovych says that he still wants to sign the agreement and that he is still interested in getting closer to the EU, do you believe him?

Look I am not naïve. But when you are dealing with people you have to take something on good faith. He has told this to every leader of every Eastern Partnership State and to every leader of the European Union at the summit meeting here today.

If you are asking me is he misleading his peers or is he telling the truth, time will answer that question. I cannot answer it but if we have a mission and a mandate which is extended, we have to deal with people on a good-faith basis on what they say. But I do underline we do that with absolutely no naivety.

What is, in your opinion, the major achievement at the summit or the major failure?

Well, I think the significant achievements are Moldova and Georgia. I think if there is a lesson from the Ukrainian period now, the lesson is very clear. And that is not to hang about. If these people are ready to do the business, help them. Don't leave them exposed to any kind of a prolonged campaign of attrition.

I am extremely pleased to see the visa deal with Moldova and it's the beginning of something that is needed regionally with all the conditions that must be fulfilled but it is important because we are dealing at two levels. One is with governments and politicians and parliaments, but the real deal is with people and with their aspirations.

There is no doubt that the people protesting up and down Ukraine in the past week are signaling the European aspiration in a very real and human way. And the visa issue is a very real and human response. Indeed, I can tell you that of the two million Schengen visas issued in the period of Eastern partnership, fully one million of those went to Ukrainians.

Is the EU now trying to offer Moldova visa-free travel to increase pressure on the Ukrainians?

No. But I think in the case of Moldova, they managed to complete. There are benchmarks to get there. You actually need to do your homework. And in fairness, a lot of homework has been and is being done in the Ukraine. The full exam hasn't been passed yet. So the rules are simple. They are non-discriminatory. You do your study. You pass your exam and you get your certificate. And that's what it is. And that's what it stays.

Do you think your mission will be renewed?

We are due to report next week to European Parliament. President Schulz today is speaking at the summit meeting , suggested that he is contemplating sending the mission back. Now we need to discuss and need a mandate from the parliament if it's willing to do so and see what terms and conditions they attach.

When do you think Yulia Tymoshenko might be free?

That I really I don't know. We have worked constantly as regards Mrs. Tymoshenko was held on humanitarian grounds. And we will continue to work on that basis and it is our belief as a mission that the European Union at least owes a duty of care and detention and vigilance. And if we are to be part of the instrument of that vigilance we will willingly do so.

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