September 23, 2013
The Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine is seeking intervention by Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the release of Yulia Tymoshenko. Her freedom will declare Ukraine's commitment to democratic values and, most importantly, remove the key obstacle to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement to be signed at the Vilnius Partnership Summit, November 28-29. Her freedom is the litmus test for President Viktor Yanukovych.
"We are aware that some voices argue that Ukraine's future via European integration is more important than "one woman". The issue here is not about an individual but about the regime's determination to deconstruct a critical tenet of parliamentary democracy – the opposition. Her release will signal the president's democratic European choice and open a way forward," says the letter.
Politics are fluid. Since the letter was written developments between the United States and Russia – relating to the Syrian situation – have come into play. Russia is dead set against Ukraine's joining the EU free trade zone and may use the moment to it's closer-to-home advantage. "The West has a long history of Russo-centrism at the expense of Ukraine. It is imperative that Canada, the EU and the United States not barter Ukraine away in the process of fixing a situation elsewhere. Russia's historic expansionism has created much evil in the world and for much longer than Nazi Germany's. Future enlargement must be contained," says Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, a spokesperson for the Group.
Ukraine's European integration is key to ensure a global balance between democratic nations and dictatorships. All manner of diplomatic pressure must be used by all democracies, including Canada, to ensure President Yanukovych does the right thing; lets Ms. Tymoshenko free and in so doing allows Ukraine to go forward.
Ukraine's rightful place among other European democracies will be a significant victory for years of nation-building effort put out by Ukraine's friends, Canada among them. "It will ensure a better place for Ukrainians, Eastern Europe and, indeed, the world. The alternative is most problematic," says the letter to the prime minister.
The Group encourages others to contact their governments and local members of parliament with similar messages.
For further information please contact
The Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine is dedicated to the furthering of democracy in Ukraine.
Attachment: Letter to Prime Minister
September 10, 2013
The Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister,
Thank you for offering greetings on the occasion of Ukraine's 22nd anniversary of independence. The decline of freedoms, however, under the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych is a disappointment to most democratic-minded Canadians. While we regret this development deeply, we hope there is still time left to convince the president to act differently. We hope that you might be persuaded to engage in this vital undertaking.
As you well know the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) is proposed to take place during the Vilnius Partnership Summit in November. For this to happen, the European Union requires Ukraine to address nineteen benchmarks. Chief among them is the release of former prime minister and key opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The recent European Court of Human Rights ruling underscores the illegality of her arrest and incarceration.
We do not need to convince you, Prime Minister, that her imprisonment symbolizes the unhealthy, undemocratic atmosphere that has settled in Ukraine since President Yanukovych came to power. By letting her free the president will address the EU's requirement and in so doing redirect Ukraine back to democracy.
You have already written to the president on the need to respect the rule of law. We ask you, at this 11th hour, to intervene once again using the power of your office and that of other likeminded democracies to sway the president to do the right thing. He has indicated frequently that he is for European integration; the Ukrainians support this position but the incarceration of Yulia Tymoshenko is an obstacle for the EU signatories, as her arrest and incarceration are illegal. He has been stalling endlessly on this matter: now he claims there is no legal mechanism in Ukraine to set her free. This is simply more smoke and mirrors. He needs to be persuaded to let her go and we ask for your intervention in persuading him.
We are aware that some voices argue that Ukraine's future via European integration is more important than "one woman". The issue here is not about an individual but about the regime's determination to deconstruct a critical tenet of parliamentary democracy-the opposition. Her release will signal the president's democratic European choice and open a way forward.
Ukraine's rightful place among other democracies of Europe will be a significant victory for years of effort, including Canada's. It will ensure a better place for Ukrainians, Eastern Europe and, indeed, the world. The alternative is most problematic.
We thank you for a favourable consideration of our request to have Canada contribute, once again, to a positive outcome for Ukraine at the Summit.
With warmest regards,
Oksana Bashuk Hepburn