[Aaus-community-list] Ukraine-EU: the Beginning of a New Dialogue
kostya at uncpd.kiev.ua
Thu Mar 4 05:38:08 EST 2010
Reproduced with permission.-rdl
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Research Update. Vol. 16, № 6/604, 2 March 2010
Ukraine-EU: the Beginning of a New Dialogue
By Yaroslav Dovgopol, UCIPR expert
On 1 March, newly elected President of Ukraine V. Yanukovych made his first visit to Brussels and
held a series of meetings at the highest level. By the results of the negotiations with leaders of the main
EU institutions, he made public official positions of Ukraine’s political force in power in the context of
future relations of Ukraine with the EU. Europe has long looked forward to this moment, since the first
day after the second round of the presidential elections. At that time, leaders of the EU Member States
started to send their greetings to the new leader, even before the promulgation of the official results by
the CEC. Meanwhile, the European Parliament formulated a “starting position” for a new dialogue,
having adopted a Resolution on the situation in Ukraine on 25 January (on the day of V. Yanukovych
A platform for the future dialogue
A Resolution’s provision ruling “Whereas Ukraine is a European state and, pursuant to Article 49 of
the Treaty on European Union, may apply for membership of the EU” became indicative for Kyiv.
Such the “hat trick” by the European Parliament could certainly be interpreted as an additional
incentive to new political power in Ukraine in the context of its aspirations to join the EU. On the other
hand, this could also be explained by the EU apprehensions of clearly pro-Russian political orientation
of the Party of Regions, whose leader was elected the Head of State. Hence, Brussels decided to apply
tactics of approaching Ukraine and eventually suggested a very forcible argument describing (though
formally) prospects of Ukraine’s membership in the EU.
The Resolution contained other “nice moments”. Specifically, in the document, Members of the
European Parliament (MEPs) emphasized substantial progress in the area of democracy, stressed
Ukraine’s role as a key regional actor and even underlined the re-examination of the existing visa
facilitation agreement with long-term objectives in mind. The European Parliament even called on the
Council of Europe to mandate the Commission to revise this agreement with Ukrainian authorities.
This will mean a substantial progress in the negotiations on visa-free travel for Ukraine and, at the
same time, high dividends for the political force in power.
Meanwhile, among other perspectives, evaluations and recommendations, the European Parliament
inserted some “wishes” for the Ukrainian party. They were few but clearly formulated. Some of them
concerned the revision of the electoral legislation (which has repeatedly been stressed by western
international observers at presidential elections). Others accentuated the importance of reforming the
energy sector and called on for further agreements between the EU and Ukraine “aimed at securing
energy supplies for both sides, including a reliable transit system for oil and gas”. In the same context
a mention was made of the need “swiftly to adopt a new gas law, which complies with EU Directive
2003/55/EC”. MEPs probably meant the stable and transparent work of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System.
Several other provisions of the Resolution seemed interesting but ambiguous.. One of them calls on
Ukrainian authorities “to make greater efforts to reach out to minority communities in Ukraine by
further integrating these communities in the political developments of the country” in compliance with
the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. As these two documents have been recently
mentioned in the election platform of the PR leader, one can easily guess the matter concerns the
Russian-speaking population (which officials in Moscow often confuse with the Russian minority in
Another “interesting” provision was the one on the decision by V. Yushchenko to posthumously award
Stepan Bandera the title of “National Hero of Ukraine”, which as the document reads the European
Parliament “deeply deplores”. In this connection, MP from OUPSD Andriy Parubiy called on his
colleagues from the EP to revise their attitude, having seen it as lobbying for Gazprom. It is difficult to
say for sure for what purpose this and previous provisions were included to the Resolution’s text.
Although one can state Brussels failed to thoroughly examine all the “delicate” issues in Ukraine,
which turn into a tool for the country's artificial split in the hands of some political forces.
The ambiguous text of the Resolution can be explained, among other things, by the involvement of
different EP factions in its formulation. On the other hand, it is possible to assume that Brussels
wanted to do its best to please political views of the newly elected President of Ukraine.
Yanukovych visits the EU “capital”
The Ukrainian official delegation to Brussels headed by V. Yanukovych included Chairman of the
Presidential Administration Serhiy Liovochkin, Deputy Chairman of the Presidential Administration
Hanna Herman, Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko, MP Yuriy Boiko (former Shadow Minister of
Fuel and Energy) and MP Volodymyr Kozak (Minister in the Shadow Ministry of Transport). The
presence of two MPs in the delegation is not incidental: evidently, they will have to implement
agreements reached in Brussels later on.
The list of issues considered in the framework of the visit of the newly elected Ukrainian President
was almost identical to that of the EP Resolution of 25 January. There is no doubt that previous
proposals by Brussels stated in the EP document proved to be timely for Kyiv: they offered the new
Ukrainian elite an opportunity to make a sound decision on its position in the future dialogue with the
EU. Hence, statements made at the meetings in Brussels were, so to say, played from a score.
Specifically, the EU recognized that Ukraine is “a key regional actor” which has “a distinctive
position in Europe”, underscored the need for economic reform promoting the country’s integration
into the European economic system and reaffirmed its willingness to help Ukraine in this direction. In
this respect, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stated the EU is ready to
earmark some €500 million, if it resumes cooperation with the IMF. (By the way, the EU made the
same statement in late 2009. That time, the amount of €610 million was discussed. Though, a
necessary condition to get this macro-economic aid should be an affirmative decision by the IMF on
the loan to Ukraine. And this, in its turn, could not be realized without the adoption of the 2010 budget
by the Verkhovna Rada, which Ukrainian parliament has failed to do until now).
Furthermore, at the meeting with V. Yanukovych, Jose Manuel Barroso stressed the need to work out a
roadmap to visa-free travel for Ukrainians. In the opinion of many experts, this is an important tool for
accelerating the negotiations on visa facilitation and solving this issue in the near future.
President of the Council of Europe Herman Van Rompuy also reassured the Ukrainian delegation of
the EU’s readiness for constructive talks on the Association Agreement, including the agreement on a
free-trade area. This will be "decisive for reinforcing cooperation between Ukraine and the EU” he
Ukraine’s gas transit sector was not forgotten as well, “Ukraine direly needs to continue reforming its
gas sector because rapid progress in this area will open the door for European investment and help
modernize the Ukrainian Gas Transit System.” This was seriously stated by J. Barroso, who repeated
one of the EP Resolution’s provisions on the need to implement a new gas law, which complies with
EU Directive 2003/55/EC. It means European officials still hope Kyiv will remain a reliable partner in
energy supply to Europe. Anyway, despite prospects (long- or short-term) on the construction of new
gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine, our country will play the key role in gas supply to Western Europe
for long. In this connection, it has to be mentioned that V. Yanukovych confirmed the readiness to
compromise and to amend the legislation “to strengthen the trust in Ukraine in the West and in the
Yet, at the meeting in Brussels, the Ukrainian President made some accents complying with his pre-
election statements. In particular, he said it is too earlier now to discuss specific prospects of Ukraine’s
integration into the EU. What matters most of all is reforms. Paradoxically but Ukraine’s position of
“delaying” the accession to the Community completely satisfies the EU, a little tired of the last
enlargement wave. Besides, this obviously plays into Moscow’s hands as it does not want Ukraine to
disappear from its area of influence.
No one expected surprises on the NATO issue and these expectations came true. V. Yanukovych
emphasized Ukraine will keep out of NATO though Kyiv will realize its partnership with the Alliance
in the framework of the existing programs and accords. Meanwhile, it is unclear whether annual
National Programs, which Ukraine implements and which actually duplicate the MAP, will be
amended. Probably, this will become obvious in the near future.
The heroization of Stepan Bandera was not left out of attention. At the conversation with EP President
Jersy Buzek, V. Yanukovych promised Ukraine will make a decision on this issue as soon as possible,
having added "the problem aroused heated debates both inside the Ukrainian society and in
Summary of the visit
Most likely, both the Ukrainian delegation and high officials in Brussels liked the process of clarifying
positions in the new dialogue between Ukraine and the EU on 1 March. At least, as it was seen from
TV programs, spirits were high at the meetings.
The European Union made Ukraine a number of very advantageous offers, which it did not deny.
Specifically, the matter concerns prospects to enhance the dialogue on visa-free travel for Ukrainians,
to conclude the Association and Free-Trade Area Agreements, to render Ukraine macro-economic aid
(on certain conditions) and to assist reforms in our country. In return, the EU demanded to revise the
legislation in definite areas (in particular, in the gas sector), to work for the stabilization of economy
and energy and to carry out reforms.
Brussels’ attitude to Ukraine sharply “warmed up” right after the election of the new Head of State,
advocating pro-Russian positions for long. It is possible to assume that the EU chose such a model of
behavior to retain (or even to strengthen) Kyiv’s European vector. However, new Ukrainian authorities
held a restrained position on the European integration. This is confirmed by V. Yanukovych’s
statements about a reluctance to set prospects of Ukraine’s joining the EU and a point-blank denial of
membership in NATO, a guarantor of the EU security dimension.
Nevertheless, the current placement of accents suits Brussels. It will be possible to discuss the final
status quo after Yanukovych’s visit to Moscow in a couple of days, on 5 March.
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