Posted by Constantine on March 21, 2005 at 20:18:15:
Mar 17, 00:15
Kyiv Post Editorial
The latest news from Brussels is that the EU is for the moment unwilling to consider modifying the restrictive visa regime to which it subjects Ukraine’s citizens. As it stands now, Ukrainians need a visa to travel to any European Union country.
Presumably there is a welter of concerns on the EU’s collective mind – illegal immigration, security, a general reluctance to traffic any more than is necessary with a big, poor country that makes Europeans nervous by the intensity of its desire to belong to the club. But since illegal immigration will persist whether the visa regime is liberalized or not, and since Europe’s borders are wide open to any number of poor countries that incubate Islamic extremism, one doubts the first two reasons are particularly relevant. The assumption, rather, is that Europe simply does not want its suddenly solicitous eastern neighbor to get the wrong idea.
The EU’s refusal is profoundly short-sighted, as a healthy Ukraine is in its interests, and there’s hardly a better way to spread “European values” than by letting Ukrainians actually experience Europe. The refusal is also impolite, given how President Viktor Yushchenko has been assiduously cultivating the Europeans, and how earlier this month Petro Poroshenko, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, suggested that Ukraine’s visa requirements might be reduced for EU citizens.
This is not to say the EU should promise to accept Ukraine. That issue is meaningless, since it’s impossible to foresee what the EU will be by the time Ukraine gets around to joining. But it is to say that the EU should be doing what it can to help Ukraine. Issuing statements about good neighbor policies doesn’t cut it. Real action does. And the EU brain trust in Brussels – all urbane diplomatic talk and too little action – just missed another chance.
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