The EU has told Ukraine that it will have to show progress in key areas if landmark agreements are to be signed next month.
The Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Füle has visited Kyiv, with the EU increasingly linking the deals to the release of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
A European Parliament monitoring mission, by the parliament’s ex-president Pat Cox and the former Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski, is due to report on the matter in mid-October.
“There’s this need for a definitive move with respect to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko. The upcoming report by the former presidents Cox and Kwasniewski will be of crucial importance for our member-states, who will be making their evaluations of Ukraine’s progress,” Füle said.
In Kyiv he also met President Yanukovich, who has said the Tymoshenko issue will be settled soon.
European governments believe the case against her was politically motivated.
Germany has offered to bring her there for medical treatment.
But the head of Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions in parliament, Oleksandr Yefremov, warned that should Tymoshenko come back to Ukraine afterwards, she would have to serve her sentence and “pay for her crimes”.
The former prime minister has spent most of the last two years under prison guard in hospital, suffering from spinal problems.
President Yanukovich has not specifically mentioned her release, but has admitted the government would have to show “distinct movement” on the issue to be sure of nailing down agreements with the EU on trade and closer ties.