EU foreign ministers meeting Luxembourg told Ukraine on Monday that it must resolve the row over jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko if the country wants to sign a trade pact with Brussels.
European powers have long criticised her jailing as “politically motivated” and are still pressing for her release.
“We want Ukraine to continues its way towards the EU. Therefore , some conditions have to be fulfilled,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
“It’s particularly important that the rule of law is implemented and the fight against ‘selective justice’ is done in a verifiable and credible way,” he added.
Ukraine wants to sign the so-called ‘Association Agreement’ with the EU at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania next month.
But Brussels has said democratic reforms will be needed before such a deal can be signed and implemented.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton echoed Westerwelle’s call for changes to Ukraine’s judicial system.
“This needs to be addressed as part of their desire to have a stronger relationship (with the EU). In course of doing that, that means they have to look at what happens to individuals and finding appropriate was of doing what needs to be done,” she told reporters in Luxembourg.
Judges jailed Tymoshenko in 2011 over a gas deal agreed with Russia during her second term as prime minister.
She is an arch-rival of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, who has said she may travel to Germany for medical treatment but has so far refused to pardon her.