Condoleeza Rice, speaking at the Yalta European Strategy Conference, urged Ukrainians to pressure their own government to reverse the slide away from democratic principles and to ensure that the Tymoshenko and Lutsenko cases were resolved without political interference in the work of the judiciary. In a strongly worded speech, she said that the Arab uprisings were an object lesson to all authoritarian regimes, and that true democracy was only possible with an independent judiciary and an active opposition. She, and many other speakers, reminded the Ukrainian government that the world was watching to see how the Tymoshenko case unfolded and how the forthcoming elections would be conducted. Earlier in the day, she ignored a photo opportunity with President Yanukovych.

Speaking before the conference, Stefan Fule, EU Minister for Enlargement, said that both Ukraine and Europe needed a government that was serious about making further progress towards European integration and that the forthcoming elections were key to the future relationship with Europe. When he was told that the Ukrainian constitution would allow the same government to remain in place even if the opposition won the majority of seats in Parliament, he said that he could not envisage that anyone could seriously allow political authority to remain unchanged in such circumstances. But he also made clear that stronger ties with the EU would not be decided in Brussels or even in Kyiv, but through wide consensus within Ukraine itself, and through a government which would take its responsibilities seriously.

The Yalta conference is an annual event, co-funded by the Pinchuk Foundation, which brings together government and business experts from all over the world to consider strategic developments and influences on Ukraine and the rest of the world. Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister will also be one of the speakers.

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