Prosecutions of Tymoshenko, Lutsenko hinder Ukraine-EU integration, says Yatseniuk
The criminal prosecutions of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko are the main obstacle in Ukraine's path to European integration, Chair of the Council of the Batkivschyna United Opposition Arseniy Yatseniuk has said.
In the Freedom of Speech television program on the ICTV Channel on Monday, Yatseniuk said that Ukraine has two ways of development.
"Some people say that we have a third option – not to join any organizations and be a neutral country. But to me that looks like fence sitting – we have really big spheres of influence in the West and in the East," he said.
According to Yatseniuk, Ukraine's first task is to become a part of the European Union.
"This is the path supported by the opposition. Ukraine should become a part of greater Europe. First of all, because this means standards and values – a [high] level of education, medical treatment, pensions, employment, freedoms, new technologies, and progress," he said.
Another path for the country is the Customs Union, which was set up by Russia.
"Ukraine's joining the Customs Union means the restoration of the Soviet Union in a slightly different form and with a different name. But this means that the country will become a part of the Russian empire. We know history. We have been there and we don't want to return there," Yatseniuk said.
"We support the signature of the Association Agreement with the European Union and the creation of a free trade area," the politician said.
He added that there is a difficult obstacle on Ukraine's path to the EU – criminal prosecutions of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko. Yatseniuk also said that the opposition is ready to hold a dialogue with the authorities only when they stop political persecution.
"We are ready to hold a dialogue, but Tymoshenko and Lutsenko cannot hold this dialogue from behind bars. Release Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko and stop political persecution. We will hold a transparent, fair and public dialogue. If you support European positions and if you want Ukraine to become a really successful and developed country, then we are ready to head to the European Union together, sign the agreement and we are ready to make Ukraine better day by day," Yatseniuk said.
He also said that the opposition categorically opposes joining the Customs Union.
"The government and the president will not drag Ukraine into a new Soviet Union. We won't let this happen. The people of Ukraine do not want this," Yatseniuk said.