Brussels, January 11 (Interfax-Ukraine) – High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Catherine Ashton has said that she plans to play an active role in Ukraine.
She said this in her opening remarks during public hearings in the European Parliament with 26 commissioners-designate.
“I intend to play an active role in Ukraine, where presidential elections are looming and clear European interests are at stake, including on energy,” Ashton said, without providing more concrete details of her plans with respect to Ukraine.
Yes dear readers…….Baroness Cathy Ashton……..yes, Ashton………A….S….H….T….O….N.
Oh sorry……for my Ukrainian and Russian readers, Baroness Ashton is now the “High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”…….quite a title!
Yes my Slavic friends, I know you have never heard of her…….half of the UK hadn’t either until she got the job after the Lisbon Treaty was forced through.
She is a Brit……like me……well not like me at all actually.
I am quite sure given my personal history I know much more about security and security policy than she does and will ever do. I am also quite assuredly better informed upon Ukraine than she will ever be, not simply because I have lived here for so many years but because of the circles in which I move…….which are both political and business, highbrow and lowbrow, transparent and opaque, white and black and a plethora of shades of grey inbetween.
I have little doubt that she can beat me on education and influence……..but Ukraine is a country in which the biggest and the smallest fail in equal numbers if the national mentality, personal network and psyche is not understood and employed to the fullest extent.
I sometimes wonder, given there are almost 20 official Consuls in Odessa…….which I listed sometime last year here…….why the UK does not have one here. Maybe they would like to offer me an Honorary Consul here at no cost…….after all I am friends and neighbours with all the Oblast heirarchy a poor and unfortunate Brit would ever need assitance with if they had a problem here……then again no approach by MI6 either. Obviously it is cheaper for the taxpayer to pay someone to do these things than for me to do them for free…….NOT.
(Of course, for the dear readers from the USA and EU which have needed my help here in Odessa in the past with the authorities or getting things done…….services will continue as always!)
Anyway, back on topic…….so to speak…….Baroness Ashton and her role as EU Representative for meddling in Ukraine……..a nation with a psyche at all levels for eating any carrots offered and then hitting you with a stick as a thank you.
I won’t bore you dear readers with the background for Baroness Ashton………who I am sure is a wonderful person………you can read it here:
The question is, what active role is she to play? She mentions “energy”…….but what of Nordstream and Southstream……both of which seem to be much more probable than the Nabucco pipeline…….well quite obviously……..they both directly solve some of the bigger hitters of Old Europe’s issues on their own sovereign energy security by completely avoiding Ukraine and with the added bonus of both have less decision makers involved than getting a “common policy” through the EU.
Oh what price a 27 headed political monster each with different ideals and sovereign interests? Diplomacy and negotiation to the point where nobody’s best interests are served.
What carrots are you going to offer Ukraine on behalf of the EU dear lady? What sticks will you threaten it with?
You could withdraw EU funding for various projects…..which you would think would be a threat…….but nobody would really care as the majority of that funding doesn’t get anything done here and makes no difference to the people of Ukraine. The political elite will not care much one way or the other. Moscow would be quite happy to see the fledgling romance between the EU and Ukraine come to a halt.
This does not give the EBRD and EB any return on investments already committed here either. It goes a long way to keeping wary European investors even further away…….unless they have balls the size of coconuts……..in which case they need to be like coconuts as they will be squeezed hard and often here.
She can threaten EU membership will be a distant mirage……..but that is an already accepted fate.
She can threaten the Free Trade Agreement…….but that is already stalled and much of the fault lays with Ukraine and the business elite organising the protections of their existing monopolies…….in effect it is Ukraine holding up that process by its own actions.
What sticks will you have in your negotiating and diplomatic bag to hit Ukraine with?
As I have already said, Ukraine will eat any carrot offered and then not carry out the actions it promised for the free meal. The IMF has already been victim to this and has since had to freeze the loans because of it. Any Ukrainian or foreigner who has been here for more than a few years could have bet everything they owned on the fact Ukraine would change the goal posts after getting the majority of the money……..and known they really risked nothing by making the bet.
The phsyche is not at all European or western. A fool…….the IMF…….and many investors……..are soon parted with their money here.
Economic hardships are nothing new to the Ukrainian people. They have suffered bank collapses completely obliterating entire life savings with nothing by way of compensation. They have suffered 95% reductions in their wealth through currency revalutaions overnight with no warning or apologies.
People here are used to having it hard and getting on with things as they are. There is a live for today mentality. Life insurance, life assurance, property insurance and contents insurance are not common place. The only reason car insurance is now more common than not is because it is mandatory and now used to relieve a driver of a nice “fee” for the traffic policeman’s retirement fund…….without any legal actions thereafter I would add.
What sticks and carrots does the good Baroness have to encourage or threaten Ukraine with exactly? Without them her involvement will be this solitary statement, rhetoric and convoluted verbal political overatures or condemnations.
Reciprocal Visa free travel is about the only thing which she can offer which will make a difference to each and every Ukrainian citizen which would be noticeable. Nothing else she can say or do by way of “carrot” would filter through to the average Ukrainian by way of tangible difference to their life. This is something which will not be offered any time soon……..let’s be quite honest.
The offer of EU cash and expertise in upgrading and refurbishing an antiquated Soviet gas transit route?
Very nice, but as Russia found out, anything which travels across Ukraine is subject to the political will of the Ukrainian elite. There is very little point in having a nice new gas transit pipeline if Ukraine fails to pay its bill and begins to steal gas…….again…….forcing Russia to turn off the tap or supply free gas to Ukraine……the later, as we have seen, will not be allowed.
Nordstream and Southstream are only a probability because this has happened before.
It is very likely that either winner of the election would also want Russian involvement in such a project anyway.
Maybe she could threaten a trade embargo…….but on what grounds? Secret WMD production? (Joke)
What serious sticks does she hold to beat Ukraine with if it does not want to listen?
What carrots does she have which won’t be eaten and then no action taken after the free lunch?
What active role does she think she can play in a nation divided ostensively East and West along political lines (as well as many others) when Ukraine cannot unite itself ?
I mean no offence dear lady, it is a brave and bold statement to make…….but you enter where angels fear to tread and where internal battles still rage most fearsly on many levels both nationally and regionally.
I trust your statement was made after due consideration of the facts which were available to you……but be certain in the knowledge that the facts made available to you and your advisers, will be “selective” if they have originated from here.