On the evening of the EU/Ukraine summit which has been consistently billed with more expectations than were ever possible since events relating to Ms Tymoshenko charged the dynamics of the EU/Ukrainian relationship, I was not in the slightest bit keen to discover the outcome in a timely way.
In fact I went out to dinner with an Interpol Ukrainian liaison officer and talked human rights, Euro 2012, policing and migration. This I thought, would be far more interesting than a summit that would simply announce the successful end to the negotiations and no more.
It is what I have been predicting for four months or so here on the blog and there was nothing new to make me consider my position was misaligned. I expected no surprises and I was right to do so. Herman Van Rompuy’s subsequent speech was so predictable I could have written it myself in late September and there would have been no changes to it prior to delivery two days ago.
Paragraphs such as this written at the beginning of November now read rather well ” In the meantime I am led to believe that Ukraine is preparing to take a step back from the DCFTA and AA with the EU regardless, and may not be in a rush to initial these agreements anyway until there is more of a consensus within the EU over the prospects of Ukrainian membership in the future.”
With revised Russian gas deals still pending, initialing this document on 19th December, whether Ms Tymoshenko was in jail or not, may have been particularly ill-timed. It may be that some in power consider it is going to be easier to get a better deal out of Russia before any consideration over the release of Tymoshenko and the initialing, signing and ratification process commences with the EU. Such a process is after all not swift, whereas concluding a revised deal with Russia over gas is likely to occur in a more immediate time frame.
A case of economic and neighbourly priorities in the immediate term when it comes to getting results. Ms Tymoshenko and the EU can wait a little longer, a revised Russian gas deal cannot. As predicted the AA and DCFTA will now sit on shelves in Ukraine and the EU to be dusted down sometime in the future and brought back to life at a far better time for both parites.
In short, I made the right decision to go out to dinner with the Interpol chap. More so as Vladimir paid the bill as well!
Before I forget, that sticky bit of text relating to Ukraine’s eventual membership and the EU’s unwillingness to include such wording? It was resolved as follows:
The EU “recognises Ukraine’s European choice and aspirations and confirms its European identity”
Reliable rumour is that the initialing of this now completed document will happen in February 2012 although nothing much will happen thereafter until the October 2012 elections which one assumes will have to be whiter than white as far as procedures and observers are concerned.
That is again something I stated here back on 16 August ” …….hardly anybody amongst the diplomatic luminary circles really thinks of Tymoshenko as a champion of democracy and thus she is not as relevant as free and fair (and internationally recognised as such) elections in October 2012. Those elections, rather than her fate, are therefore the key event to the ratification of the DCFTA and AA.”
Still, gazing into a crystal ball over such principled issues, it is hardly difficult to come up with an accurate prediction (even if made 14 months before the event).
That said, to progress that logic further, with the agreement on the shelf and initialed in February 2012, one can quite easily see it staying there until 2016 to allow Ms Tymoshenko to remain in jail and Mr Yanukovych to get reelected as President.
That being the case, no matter how technically clean, transparent and honest the October 2012 elections may be, with Ms Tymoshenko in jail and unable to participate, by default (following EU sensibilities over the issue) any result will not be deemed free and fair because she cannot participate, even if her party does particularly well.
All idle speculation for now but should what I write turn out to become reality, it will be yet another day of no surprises in Ukraine.