Archive for May 21st, 2011

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A definitive statement on the EU by Ukraine

May 21, 2011

Sooner than I expected, but none the less welcome particularly in the EU, although not so welcome in the Kremlin, are the words of National Security and Defense Council Secretary Raisa Bohatyryova.

For the first time, the current administration have committed towards the goal of full EU membership. Prior we have seen statements of “European integration” and association.

With Poland holding the EU presidency at the end of the year, there is no better ally within the EU with so much to gain from Ukraine getting the EU Association Agreement than Poland. Quite naturally, Poland having one of the main land borders with Ukraine (together with Slovenia and Hungary) will gain from free moving traffic through their nation.

The aim of EU membership was also stated yesterday by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko, who stated “Our strategic aim is membership of the European Union. The main stage on this way is signing an association agreement. Today we are at the final stage: We are jointly trying to finish these talks as soon as possible. Only several main issues have to be solved for the signing, one of which is the [EU membership] prospects for Ukraine.”

Now this is not going to happen overnight, nor next year or even within the next decade. EU expansion is pretty much off the cards for a decade at least whilst it deals with internal issues. Also even when (and not if) the Association Agreement is signed off and ratified, Ukraine will have years of meeting the agreements to the letter before it proves itself.

As I said yesterday, the current regime is laying the foundation for EU membership but is unlikely to ask for it during its tenure. It will however leave subsequent administrations with much of the ground-work already in place. Discounting the knee-jerk actions of including Romania and Bulgaria into the EU, membership on average takes 15 years from application.

That said, if the AA and DCFTA are signed and ratified during 2012 as expected, theoretically that would half the accession time.

There will undoubtedly be some happy people within the bowels of the EU having heard a public statement by the current government that EU membership is the ultimate aim. The signing of the AA and DCFTA will be a significant geopolitical victory for the EU over Moscow.

Whether the EU is ever going to be happy to have Ukraine as a full member remains to be seen. It is after all bigger than France, borders with Russia and will not join NATO (at least any time soon).

Likewise, when EU accession looks as though it will go smoothly and is therefore politically reasonable to chase, one has to wonder how the EU will look as an entity given the dramatic internal issues currently to be resolved.

Maybe Ukraine will decide not to go any further than the AA and DCFTA under any government in the future.

We will now see a Russian response over the next few weeks and months.

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