Archive for December 16th, 2013


EU suspends Association work with Gov Ukraine

December 16, 2013

In a statement by Stefan Fule, the EU has currently suspended work with the government of Ukraine regarding the Association Agreement – quite rightly, what is there to discuss further with an agreement initialed and therefore sealed by President Yanukovych himself?

The EU, along with those at Євромайдан, now expect actions prior to further words.  After all, negotiations in bad faith are nothing new in international affairs, and sooner or later tangible matters that are uncomfortable to one side or the other must occur when all the easily accommodated issues have been addressed.

President Yanukovych is now at that point.  He has nowhere else to go.

The Customs Union is a non-starter with only 18% of the nation in favour and no oligarch support.  Signing up to the CU will most certainly change the current and largely peaceful demonstrations into something far more volatile, whilst the Party of Regions would politically revolt.  China is not a charity and there is not much family silver left to sell to them, and the IMF conditions are politically hurtful.

The longer those IMF conditions are left unimplemented prior to the 2015 presidential elections, the more hurtful they will be when ballots are cast and they are far more recent in voters memories.  It must be a 50/50 call as to whether Ukraine can last economically until after the 2015 elections to impose what will be very unpopular measures.

A further heavy handed attempt to dismantle and disburse the Євромайдан movement will probably lead to sanctions not only upon certain members of the government (and their family members) but also the sponsors/owners/funders of Party of Regions – Rinat Akhmetov and the Klyuev’s.  Akhmetov and the Klyuev’s have significant business assets in both the USA and Europe.

Undoubtedly these individuals are very well aware (they have been told directly I am informed) that will be their fate should there be further brutality and clearly this is the driver for Mr Akhmetov’s exceptionally rare public statement a few days ago.

Hence no further violence, even during simultaneous and adjacent pro and anti demonstrations over the weekend.

Without Mr Akhmetov and the Klyuev’s, Presient Yanukovych would be ex-President Yanukovych within a month.

However, despite suspending the Association Agreement discussions, the EU obviously cannot be seen to abandon the  Євромайдан movement either.

Like it or not, it is now involved in a geopolitical and ideological battle with both Russia, and the large number of Ukrainians who remain unconvinced by the EU agreements.  Having entered the ring, garnered the support of at least half the nation – if not slightly more – it cannot now throw in the towel and walk away.  In doing so, any thoughts of being a significant global actor would disappear.

Ergo, it should be expected that significantly high profile EU politicians will be regular visitors to Ukraine and continue to extol the benefits of European integration, whilst being exceptionally careful (in the current circumstances which remain peaceful) not to make President Yanukovych a pariah.  The EU did after all recognise his democratic election in 2010 as free and fair, and thus the legitimacy of his term in office until 2015.

You also have to suspect that certain parties within Europe  have not finished mentoring Mr Klitschko for the presidential role, as he is clearly the preferred choice of the EPP which is likely to remain the strongest faction in the European Parliament after their elections in 2014, as well as the choice of several European leaders.

There are now only 15 months to the next Ukrainian presidential elections, and Mr Klitshchko is still far from the finished article.  Mentoring and shaping him whilst in opposition is far easier to accomplish than when he is in office (if he gets there).

Outside the constructs of the Association Agreement, it should be expected that EU-Ukrainian dialogue is intensified – both as the EU and as individual member states – to keep as many channels open as possible.

As power is an absolute and responsibility something shirked due to the DNA within Homo Sovieticus – something both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko have in common – the EU will be mindful that it does not allow Ukraine to slip into something even remotely resembling Belarus.

Continued highly visible and consistent political support for those supporting European integration within Ukraine is therefore an absolute must – whilst being mindful of the OSCE Charter and taking care not to turn the current president into a pariah – for that may have very dire consequences both within and without Ukraine.  The Delegation of the EU to Ukraine cannot continue to simply post entries on its Facebook page as far as the general population of Ukraine is concerned.  It is going to have to do much more if it is going to try and win over more of the population.

It is now Yanukovych’s move – though there seems to be very few comfortable moves left for him to make.  We shall now wait to see results of his next Russian trip for the next twist in the plot.

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