23 Mar 2015
Year of 1993 can be considered as the beginning of the partnership relations between Ukraine and the EU, when Ukrainian parliament Verchovna Rada in its resolution "On (over) main directions of Ukraine's foreign policy" stated that "longer-term view of foreign policy of Ukraine is accession to the EU". Nevertheless, this goal stood out as one of several quite contradictory decisions on the list at the time, when Verchovna Rada conducted a 'multidirectional' international foreign policy. Over the following years came into effect several agreements between Ukraine and the EU, in particular on (over) the sale of various kinds of goods (metal products, textiles) and on (over) the cooperation in the nuclear industry. Of particular significance is the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation, which Ukraine has signed (was signed by) with the EU as one of the first of the CIS (The Commonwealth of Independent States) countries on 14 June 1994. Though there were a number of inconsistencies in fulfillment its obligations from the Ukrainian side, which greatly complicated the negotiatation process for further economic integration between the two sides, it is also clear that the agreement has fulfilled its role to start building constructive relations between EU and Ukraine, creating a fundamentally new type of cooperation.
Nine years later, in May 2002, President L.Kuschma, during his annual address to Parliament stated objectives, aimed to bring Ukraine closer to European community. Ambitions looked as follows(ing):
- In 2003-2004, to sign an agreement with the EU associate membership and negotiate a free trade zone;
- In 2004-2007, Ukraine has to implement all the necessary procedures for the entry into force of the agreement on associate membership;
- In 2005-2007, Ukraine needs to create a Customs Union with the EU;
- In 2007-2011 - Ukraine is to fulfill the conditions required for EU accession.
At the same time Ukraine has appealed to the European Union to grant it the status of associate member. Instead Ukraine has been offered the status of "neighbor EU'', a more detailed explanation of which appeared almost a year later. Basic principles of the new neighborhood policy were set out in the directive of the Commission and Council of the European Union to the European Parliament "Wider Europe - Neighbourhood: A new dimension to our relations with eastern and southern neighbors." The aim of the new European Neighborhood Policy was to provide a framework for the development of new relations with the countries bordering the EU, which would in the immediate perspectives of which do not include (ÃÂ²ÃÂ¾Ã‘â€š Ã‘â€šÃ‘Æ’Ã‘â€š Ã‘â€¡Ã‘â€šÃÂ¾ Ã‘â€šÃÂ¾ ÃÂ½ÃÂµ ÃÂ¿ÃÂ¾ÃÂ½Ã‘ÂÃ‘â€šÃÂ½ÃÂ¾ÃÂµ) prospects of membership or participation in the institutions of the Union.
Policy Action Plan Neighborhood was implemented based on an analysis of achievements and failures in the relationship between the two parties. It could be described in another way as an 'integration without Europeanization'.
However incomplete, this was a diplomatic foundation upon which the fostering of the constructive relationship gave a start to more constructive relationship. Ukraine, together with other countries, such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbajian, Moldova, belong to the East Subgroup, with EU aspiration (ÃÂ³ÃÂ´ÃÂµ ÃÂ³ÃÂ»Ã°ÃÂ³ÃÂ¾ÃÂ»?). Aspirations, however, cannot outbalance notable disparity in rates of development in a number of branches. Thus, the level and characteristics of economic development of Ukraine imposed (and still do) significant restrictions on the integration capabilities of Ukraine.
Unconditional obstacle to Ukraine's EU membership remains a huge gap in economic development of Ukraine and European countries. Indicator of living standards in Ukraine (officially, the indicator of standard of living, composed from data on life expectancy, education and per-capita GNI), even taking into account purchasing power parity (PPP, which is an expression of the idea that if ignoring transaction costs, identical good will have the same prices on various markets), is approximately 15% of the EU average. The share of Ukraine's foreign trade EU is very small, and justified by the small size of the Ukrainian economy. In 2001, Ukraine's share in EU imports amounted to 0,4% and 0,5% - in its exports and that is given that the export accounted for 70% of Ukrainian GDP and the rate of exports per capita is about 5% of the EU average.
Viktor Yanukovych became the 4th President of Independent Ukraine in February 2010. On February 7 2010 Janukowitsh defeated his main rival and fierce political opponent of many years Julia Timoshenko. Juschenko was defeated in the first round of election in January, when won less than total of 6 per cent of votes. Janukowitsch is an openly pro-russian president, comes from the Russian- speaking part of Ukraine and is well-known to be strongly supported by a number of pro-russian businessmen and Russian clans in this presidential campaign.The lost of trust of Ukrainian people in Viktor Juschenko was evident. Viktor Juschenko, the former Head of National Bank, in December 2004, during Orange Revolution has become the 3rd President of independent Ukraine with 51.9 per cent of votes ( debates are still ongoing, whether in his presidential campaign he was financially heavily supported by the US government, which is, as speculated, amounted to millions of US dollars). His attemps to bring Ukraine into NATO brought opposition from the majority of Ukrainians. The other crude misdirection was to make Russia, in the media, at least, a fierce enemy, which was and is a crude (Ã‘â€šÃ°ÃÂ²Ã‘â€šÃÂ¾ÃÂ»ÃÂ¾ÃÂ³ÃÂ¸Ã‘Â) strategical mistake, not only economically but also socially, if taken into account that the biggest minority in Ukraine are Russians. His attempt to alienate Ukraine from its neighbor was unthinkable in the country where roughly 50 per cent of indigenous population consider Russian as their mother tongue and enthusiastically consume 'made-in-Russia' media products. It should not be denied that to a certain extent this 'brotherhood' is purposely played up by the media, but the influence of Russian culture on Ukrainian mentality simply should not be dismissed. Eventually he was a president of a handful of pro-western group of intelligentsia, which is a minority in a predominantly rural Ukraine. In addition, politically ugly split between Juschenko and Timoshenko, when the Head of BYT refused to play 'a second violin', sped up the downfall of his influence on the hearts and minds of Ukrainian folk. The tensions in his camp were continuous, public and eventually destructive for his political career. The weakness in his position was already obvious when during the Parlamental elections Jutshenko Party won less that 14 per cent of votes. Dissapointment in Orange Revolution fostered a collapse of the Orange coalition in July 2006, resulting in the appearance of a new 'AntiCrisis' Coalition, composed of the Party of Regions, led by V.Janukovych, the Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Communist Party of Ukraine. Their agenda offered significant changes to the presidential one, as in domestic projects as well as in the foreign affairs' policy, though eventually the signing of a Manifesto of National Unity still took place between the opposing parties. This document ratified the Ukraine intention to continue integration talks with the EU and to co-operate with NATO. At the same time, its implementation remained problematic as the 'anti-crises' coalition was making attempts to evade the implementation of certain points of the Manifesto (e.g. co-operation with NATO). Questions arose and during interpretation of certain statements of Manifesto by different parties.
Agreements between Ukraine and the EU.
Ukraine is currently considered as a 'key partner' with the European Neighbourhood policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership, which are there to ensure 'that the whole of the EU is committed to deeper relations with all our neighbours and at the same time to develop tailor-made relations with each country'. In March 2007 EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was launched to replace the previous Partnershp and Cooperation Agreement, the aim of which is to establish 'deep and comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU', following Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO, an organization that intent/ds to supervise and liberalize international trade) in May 2008). The question remains how long Kiew will need to wait for a full Agreement, which in its turn depends how swiftly Kiew will accept and fulfill its obligations set in the ''ENP Action Plans', which as stated by the ENP can happen 'only from the involvement of both the government and the civil society organisations'. The role of civil society organizations, in their part, consists of 'identifying priorities for action and in promoting and monitoring the implementation of ENP Action Plans'. Though EU considers civil society organizations as important players in establishment transparency and systematization, the question remains whether Ukrainian legislature can ensure independent functioning of these non-government organizations and protection from manipulative pressure by Government or other interested players. Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) is currently the legal framework of EU-Ukraine relations, which provides 'a framework for political dialogue, sets the principal common objectives in terms of promotion of trade and investment, sustainable development, economic, social, financial, civil, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation, legal approximation and support to Ukraine's efforts to consolidate its democracy and to develop its economy.
PCA, on its part, set up a framework, which consists of Co-operation Council, consisting of the members of the Government of Ukraine on the one hand and of the members of the EU Council and of the European Commission on the other, as well as co-operation Committee, which are to meet regularly to monitor the progress in implementing economic/trade chapters of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan. The head Committee consists of a number of sub-committees. Another significant committee to mention is the Parliamentary Co-operation Committee (PCC), consisting of the members of the Ukrainian Parliament and the European Parliament and meets twice a year.
Among other agreements on cooperation are Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine establishing a framework for the participation of Ukraine in the European Union crisis management operations, as well as the Agreement on cooperation in science and technology between the European Community and Ukraine , Agreements between the European Community and Ukraine on certain aspects of air services, agreement for Cooperation in the Field of Civil Satellite Navigation, Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements.
Another field of cooperation worth mentioning is Black Sea Synergy Joint Statement, signed in Kiev in 2008 between EU and the Black Sea Foreign Affairs Ministers in order to 'stimulate democratic and economic reforms, support stability and promote development, facilitate projects in areas of common concern, open up opportunities and challenges through coordinated action in a regional framework, and encourage the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region'. Another important field of cooperation is in the sphere of natural gas and oil. Ukrainian Naftogaz is already a member of several international organizations such Gas Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the European Energy Forum, and the International Gas Union. In May 2010 Naftogaz began the procedure of accession to Eurogas, the European Union of the Natural Gas Industry as an associated member. On 21 May at the meeting in Berlin, Germany Chairman of the Naftogaz of Ukraine Board of Directors Yevhen Bakulin and Eurogas President Domenico Dispenza signed the Memorandum of Understanding, concerning cooperation in energy sphere. Based on this Memorandum a Joint Declaration was signed on 23 March 2009 during joint EU-Ukraine International Conference for Modernization of Gas Transportation System of Ukraine. A technical coordination group was created to realize provisions of the Joint Declaration. This group is comprised of experts from Naftogaz of Ukraine, SE Ukrtransgaz, and experts from the European Commission and international financial organizations (EIB, EBRD, and WB). Naftogaz of Ukraine received technical assistance within the framework of the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ¡Ãâ€ S/INOGATE program financed by the European Union. The main goal of this program is to increase security of transit and supply of energy resources to European consumers by fostering regional integration of oil and gas pipeline systems.
On 24 September 2010 Ukraine joined the European Energy Community, the significance of which was underlined by the European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger as to help Ukraine 'to have access to a pan-European energy market, based on the principles of solidarity and transparency, since for the Community, Ukraine is an important new member and security of supply further improved'.The energy Community entered into force on 1 July 2006. The goal of the European Energy Community is to liberalize their energy markets and implement key EU legal acts in the area of electricity, gas, environment and renewable energy.
Another point of cooperation is the European Parliament Resolution of 25 Novermber 2010 on Ukraine. Overall, the resolution can be said to have taken a soft stand recent violation of local elections and characterized them as largely 'quiet', though not 'setting new democratic standards', even though certain partied of the EP, such as European People's Party (EPP) proposed originally to regognize the elections in Ukraine as 'unfree, unfair and undemocratic'. The resolution was also lenient on describing problems associated with the implementation of democratic freedoms, especially the freedom of speech, even though called 'to investigate the role of the SBU in connection with the interference in the democratic process'. Other comments and suggestions, proposed by the EP, concerned mainly the continuation of the reforms. The EP insisted on a comprehensive amendment to the Constitution, the Election Code and the Public Information Act.
Significantly, in the resolution it was firstly stated that "in accordance with Article 49 of the Agreement on the European Union, Ukraine can apply for membership in the EU", which is in itself is a progress in the relationship.
The EP also announced its support of the annulment of the visa regime between Ukraine and the EU in the future. Ukraine urged the EP in its part to cancel Schengen visa fees for Ukrainian citizens in the nearest future and institute visa-free travel during Euro 2012.
Some Ukrainian officials blatantly cheered the document, not only because the Ukrainian Governent received from the EP a recognition of the prospects of the EU membership, but also the right to file an application to the EU. But not all. Former Vice Premier H,Nemyria described the resolution and the uttered support by the EP of Ukraine as 'a slap in the face, which alienated the country even further from the EU'. Not everbody agrees on the interpretation of the resolution, but nevertheless its significance is undisputable, even though the split in the EP between its parties as to what position the EP should take in regard to Ukraine remain.
Among the spheres of cooperation is Education, which stresses the importance of increasing cooperation on youth and student exchanges and the development of scholarship programmes which will enable Ukrainians to become acquainted with the European Union and its Member States. As well as 'calls on the Ukrainian authorities to step up efforts to fight corruption; expects, in this regard, that positive political statements will be matched by decisive action in combating corruption at all levels, on the basis of political impartiality; calls for the establishment of a level playing field for business and for application of the same rules to domestic and foreign investors; in that connection, deplores the over-involvement of big business in political life' , 'Highlights Ukraine's pivotal role in the European Union's energy security; emphasises the importance of stepping up cooperation between Ukraine and the EU in the field of energy; calls on Ukraine to implement its commitments arising out of the Joint Declaration of the EU-Ukraine International Investment Conference on the Modernisation of Ukraine's Gas Transit System; calls for further agreements to be concluded between the EU and Ukraine aimed at securing energy supplies for both sides, including a reliable and diversified transit system for oil and gas; emphasises that if Ukraine is to have a modern gas transit system, it requires transparent, efficient and high-quality transit services through a modernised gas transportation network', and also, among others' Calls on the Ukrainian Government to bring the legislation on media freedom into line with OSCE standards; decisive action in this regard would strengthen Ukraine's credibility as OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office for 2013'.
On the whole the resolution outlines some common points of cooperation and offers nothings specific.
The more significant are practical steps and concrete agreements, for example, in the area of Free Trade. Minister of Economy V. Piatnitski, after a recent round of negotionations between the economic delegations of Ukraine and the EU, is moderately pessimistic about the prospects for approval of the agreement on free trade area (FTA) any time soon, as European Commision has basically blocked for now Ukrainian access to European market in energy and transport ("Mirror of week", 16.10).
Ukrainian side has characterized the conditions as 'not very favourable' for Ukraine, except in the area of internation marine traffic, but where Ukraine has really no substantial resources. From the Piatniski's words Ukraine has a great potential in the areas of power transmission, ground transportation, which is making it increasingly competitive. The fact that these markets are closed to Ukraine for now is a serious question. The EU wants to oblige Ukraine to accept and subsidize the mechanism of compensation for unforeseen situations in the field of energy, such as disruptions in gas supplies. "They are very concerned about the security of energy transit through Ukraine, the occurrence of situations of force majeure, the fault of one party (in this case meaning(s) the Ukraine), and therefore offer the expedited dispute settlement mechanism, a compensation mechanism, built on the fact that any amount corresponding to the equivalent of potential losses is deposited outside of Ukraine. " That is, we are depositing some money, and if something suddenly happens to our fault, it is written off unconditionally. "It turns out that the state must assume full responsibility for them."
Accession of Ukraine to the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan would have led to an immediate cessation of talks on free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU, because as a member of the Customs Union, Ukraine would be able to sign any agreements on free trade with the EU. And however there are no ongoing negations at present between Ukraine and the Customs Unions, it still remains potentially a point of tensions in negotiation between Ukraine and the EU.
Some important conclusions to be made from this recent round of negations can be stated as following:
1. The European Commission continues to consider Ukraine as mere objects of trade and economic expansion and little concerned about the consequences of those decisions imposed on Ukraine. In this case, European experts are strictly concerned with getting benefits for domestic producers of goods and services and does not take into account the perspectives of development of Ukrainian economy, which in principle is quite natural for economic talks.
2. The EU merely sees Ukraine as a component in the politics of the Eastern Partnership. At present there are no targeted specific programs to adapt Ukrainian economy to the EU standards, except for some minor technical assistance in some economical areas. The priority of the EU is for Ukraine to completely adapt its economic legislation to the EU standards in sectors of transportation, energy and services, which Ukraine cannot do, if merely for technical reasons.
3. the FTA with the EU imposes all kinds of quotas, limiting the volume of Ukrainian exports. The size of tariff has been already agreed upon on nearly 95 per cent of the goods. European Commission calls on complete abolition of all export duties. It need to be pointed out, that 70% of the total EU trade occurs among the countries of its community, and among them there are about 100 preferential agreements, which account for 29,5% of trade and to which Ukraine will have no relationship. At the same time, the Ukrainian share of trade is bordering on 1%, while trade with the EU accounts for 30% of Ukraine's foreign trade.
4. Entry into force of the FTA between the EU and Ukraine will inevitably be accompanied by an ultimatum, demanding the termination of all other free trade agreements with Russia and other CIS countries. This withdrawal is a doubtlessly a precondition for ratification of the Association Agreement with the EU. The notable example is Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which in their time, at the request of the European Commission denounced the free trade agreement with Ukraine on the eve of their accession to the EU. The biggest difference, however, is that Ukraine is certainly not entering the European Union in the foreseeable future.
Therefore, its can be predicted based on these negotiations that Ukraine would not rush into any premature agreements, for the sake of some illusory closeness with the EU.
There are|is a number of other problems which need to be balanced out before talks of|over the EU integration can continue. Importantly, it is the Ukraine-Russia relationship, resolutions of geographical differences and gas/oil transition.
Firstly, the dispute on the Kerch Strait (connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsual in the west from the Taman Peninsula in the East) must be resolved.
Secondly, there are tensions regarding the Russian South Stream gas transition and how this pipeline is being constructed to bypass the territory of Ukraine, and how, possibly, it is used in order to put a pressure on the Ukrainian Government. President Janukovych spoke of 'a way of blackmail' from Russian government and 'though it has begun before we came to power, it is a challenge which needs to be met and dealt with'.The priority of Ukraine now is to prove that Ukraine - is, notwithstanding, a reliable transit country, which means modernization of the pipelines, among others, with the financial help of the EU. According to V.Janukovych 'both Russia and Europe have an access to the management of Ukrainian gas transportation system. Modernization will allow them to become shareholders'.
Thirdly, is the prospect of joining the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Khazakhstan. Official position of present Ukrainian government does not give a straightforward answer, stressing that Ukraine might consider joining the Customs Union, if he|it sees for himself the obvious benefits and if it is clearly in the nation's interests. Furthermore, to joint the Union, certain ammendmends to the Constitution must be made, which are possible only if the idea will find support of 300 deputies in the Parliament. Overall, the chance of gathering 300 votes is not convincing, to seriously speculate the adherence to the Union at present.
In the recently signed decree by the President V. Janukovych (The Decree Ã¢â€ž- 1119/2010 of 10.12.2010), among other instructions to enhance the level of defense and the financial stability of the country, are also a number of statements, urging to facilitate an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraiine, including the creation of deep and comprehensive free trade area agreements with the CIS, Canada and other prospective trading partners and identifying priority area of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.
Another major event is the recent 14th Summit EU-Ukraine which has taken place recently on the 22.11.2010.
The main points of discussing were the adoption of the Action Plan for launching of a smooth transition to a visa-free regime. Action Plan, adopted specifically for Ukraine, define the criteria to be fulfilled by Ukraine and specifies measures that can be taken by the EU to liberalize visa regime for Ukrainian citizens, traveling into the EU countries. The most realistic part of this plan concerns the abolition of visas , which will allow Ukrainian citizens to travel to the EU for up to three months without a visa and pay visa fees. European Commission President (ÃÂ¸ÃÂ¼Ã‘Â?) Barroso on the possible timing of the abolition of visas ÃÂ³ÃÂ»Ã°ÃÂ³ÃÂ¾ÃÂ» no specific answer. Estimated EU representatives, in the case of Ukraine's implementation of all requirements, theoretically it can be expected in 2012
President V. Janukovych reiterated that the EU membership remains a strategic goal and that 'Ukraine has taken a firm course towards European integration, especially, since through the efforts of its government, Ukraine has resumed economic growth. GDP growth was over 5%, industrial production - over 11%. ' While the EU president G.van Rompuy noted the high intensity of dialogue between Ukraine and the EU in 2010, emphasizing the "Ukraine is a strategically important partner for the EU' and that 'the parties are waiting for an early conclusion of negotiations on the conclusion of ''viable and working'' Association Agreement'. In his turn, the European commission Pressident Jose Manuel Barroso expressed his expectation that the Association Agreement between EU and Ukraine will be completed by mid-2011. "We would like to see progress on the agenda of democratic reform in Ukraine - it is important for open and democratic society."
Briefly, Ukraine's implementation of the Action Plan involves the following steps:
1. The introduction of biometric passports, which contain a special chip containing information about its owner (photo, fingerprints, voice sample, a snapshot of the iris) Ã‘â€¡Ã‘â€šÃÂ¾ ÃÂ·Ã° Ã‘â€¦ÃÂµÃ‘â‚¬ÃÂ½Ã‘Â, ÃÂ·Ã°Ã‘â€¡ÃÂµÃÂ¼ Ã‘ÂÃ‘â€šÃÂ¾ ÃÂ½Ã°ÃÂ´ÃÂ¾?. On the 17 Novermber 2010 The Cabinet of Ukraine adopted the Resolution on the introduction of biometric passports.
2. Creation of a single Institution to control migration. Until now, migration issues were in the competence of the border guards and Ministry of Internal Affairs.
3. Transfering the existing database on population registry into electronic form, which will contain data about every citizen in a comprehensive electronic format.
4. Settlement of external borders' disputes, including the demarcation of land borders with Russia, Belarus and Moldova.
5. Solving the problems relating to illegal immigration (in the framework of the agreement with the EU on readmission, which obliges Ukraine to ensure the repatriation of illegal migrants from third countries who have got into the EU via Ukraine).
8. A new agreement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and Europol. Ukrainian side should inform Europol of all criminal cases of interest to Europol. Among others important conditions are also a reform of the Judicial System to European standards and reducing corruption.
As a conclusion to his recent round of negations can be said that overall it was constructive, though without big promises. Perhaps, most importantly that the EU does not consider Janukovych's regime dictatorial or overtly antidemocratic, like in Belarus, for example, and is ready, at its own rate, to cooperate, without putting too much pressure on Ukraine or taking drastic measure to advance its course, like using force or bluntly blocking certain procedures.
In any case, the EU would be wise not to exert pressure on Ukraine, if only not to force Ukraine to turn to its neighbor Russia for increased assistance and cooperation, which the EU tries to avoid by all costs.
I (ÃÂ²ÃÂ¾Ã‘â€š ÃÂ·ÃÂ´ÃÂµÃ‘ÂÃ‘Å’ Ã‘â‚¬Ã°ÃÂ·ÃÂ²ÃÂµ ÃÂ½ÃÂµ we ÃÂ´ÃÂ¾ÃÂ»ÃÂ¶ÃÂ½ÃÂ¾ ÃÂ±Ã‘â€¹Ã‘â€šÃ‘Å’, ÃÂºÃ°ÃÂº ÃÂ² ÃÂ½Ã°Ã‘Æ’Ã‘â€¡ÃÂ½ÃÂ¾ÃÂ¹ Ã‘â‚¬Ã°ÃÂ±ÃÂ¾Ã‘â€šÃÂµ?) would like to abstain from any overhasty conclusions regarding EU-Ukraine relationship. Firstly, it is the overexpansion of the EU and its seeming incapability to sustain and support all its members. Some believe that Europeans have lost their keenness, became impassive as to further expansion. There are tensions within the EU in many spheres, the most prominent recently is the giving a huge financial aid to proclaimed financially insolvent Greece. Many experts predict that Portugal will be the next to follow. Official stance on expansion was expressed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as following: 'The enlargement of the EU from 15 to 27 members within a few yearsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦has required great efforts. As a result the CDU prefers a phase of consolidation, during which a consolidation of the European Union's values and institutions should take priority over further EU enlargement'. Roughly 50 per cent of Germans oppose Ukrainian membership into the EU, for example. Besides, there are a number of countries that are ahead of the Ukraine. Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey are officially filed for the candidacy and the negotiations talks on there entrance are already being discussed for some time. Among other countries with the EU aspirations are Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Economical crises made Iceland to apply for membership, following devastating collapse of its economy and banking system. Whether Ukraine in this situation has a valid chance and can 'compete' in urgency with other states-candidates is questionable.
Also, to reiterate, the EU would not rush with promises unless Ukraine start fulfulling its promises to undertake democratic reforms in accordance with the EU rules, put together legislature, banking system, boost the economy, adopt anti-corruption measures and put them successfully into practice and many more. It seems Ukraine has years of tough work ahead to adapt to the EU standards. The last but not the least is normalization of relationship with Russian within the framework of the EU. As it is known, for historical, economical, political reasons, Russia is not welcoming tight relations between Ukraine and the EU, seeing, firstly, the threat to its integrity. More painful for Russia is the possible entering of Ukraine into NATO. Become Ukraine a part of the EU, it would most certainly distance Ukraine from its north-eastern partner with dire consequences in economical/political agreements and Russia tries to avoid it by all costs or at least slow down the process, since Ukraine is, among others, is situated at an important strategic part of Eastern Europe. And that is not to mention Chernomorsky Fleet of the Russian Federation stationed in the Crimea Peninsula and Russian gas/oil, aimed for the EU, 80 per cent of those export travel through the pipeless across Ukrainian territory. If Ukraine enters the EU, it would not be so simple for Russia to exert its pressure on Ukraine and dictate its terms. These are issues that cannot be easily resolved.
But perhaps even more vital question is wether Ukrainian people welcome this expansion, if we consider that political desisions are made for the benefit of its people and not merely to satisfy the interests of a handful of politians and businessmen with aspirations? Certainly, there is not enough information in Ukrainian mass media about the EU. It can also be explained that ukrainian journalists simply are not adequately educated about the EU, which by large create this information gap in the country. On the news domestic affairs are an absolute priority with little news on events in its western neighbourhood. Most Ukrainians do not feel very well as to the EU and overall why should they? Decades under the Kremlin leadership, lack of transfer of the EU-related information are not favouring the developement of the 'european' consciousness in Ukrainian people, with its majority considering the EU as a distant alient partner with questionable goodwill towards Ukraine. Roughly 45 percent of Ukrainians, nevertheless, favour the EU membership. Those are mostly young people with a university degree and knowledge of a foreign language, who consider the perspective of future employment possible in the countries of the EU. There are, predictable, a number of people considering themselves still as 'USSR citizens'.The vast majority however does not has a strong opinion, partially to reiterate, due to the lack of the EU-related information and quite controversial opinions on the matter among ukrianian politics, experts and journalists. In any case, the debate will continue and predictable will be influenced by the events on the domestic political scene, as well as joint decisions taken by the EU member-states.
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