Archive for February 18th, 2014

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Yatseniuk heads to Germany on a flight of fancy

February 18, 2014

Today, opposition leaders Vitaly Klitschko and Arseniy Yatseniuk arrive in Germany to meet Angela Merkel.

Seemingly Mr Yatseniuk is there to get concrete proposals and answers from the German Chancellor.

We do not need words, we need action.  We want to hear what specific assistance Europe can offer.

We need a visa-free regime , financial assistance , investment, to have job and salary , immediate reform – judicial and law enforcement system. We also need Ukraine to become not just a member of the European family, and member of the EU.”  Mr Yatseniuk stated at Euromaiden yesterday.

Where to start with that simple little list?

Firstly Germany is not the EU – albeit Germany is one of the most powerful Member States therein.  Whatever Mrs Merkel says, she says or does is on behalf of Germany.  She is not a spokesperson for the EU – they have enough of their own – nor is she a spokesperson for any of the other 27 Member States either.  It’s a matter of  sovereignty, diplomacy and democracy when it comes to who can say what for whom with legitimacy.

However, even if Germany is brought more “on-side” than it currently is, German lobbying on behalf of Ukraine may still not be enough to persuade 2 or 3 Member States to take certain actions – despite media rhetoric to the contrary that would have us all believe Germany de facto runs the EU.

Secondly, whilst Germany may well be OK with regard to jobs and salaries for its citizens (comparatively), there are a lot of EU Member States that would also be rather pleased if Germany could deliver their citizens jobs and salaries too.

There may be ways for Germany to assist in mitigating job loses if Mr Yatseniuk or Mr Klitschko signs the EU AA at some point in the future and Russia pulls up its economic and trade drawbridge as a result, but the vast majority of job creation within Ukraine is for Ukraine to facilitate regardless of any external assistance that may be available – or not.

Further, once Ukraine sorts out the Ukrainian judicial and law enforcement issues, then inward investment – and the jobs that come with it – will arrive.  Germany is already the biggest European investor in Ukraine after the oligarchical laundered cash that returns via Cyprus, and there are more German owned businesses in Ukraine than any other EU nation.

Everybody recognises the enormous potential and huge natural resources that Ukraine has, and many would invest if the business climate was not so prohibitive, but the subject of immediate reform of the judiciary and law enforcement system is something Ukraine must do itself.  Germany can only be supportive of any reform – but it cannot create the policies or implement them for Ukraine.

To be blunt, Germany, via the EU, has been throwing Euro hundreds of millions at these Ukrainian justice issues for more than a decade – including when Mr Yatseniuk was in senior government – and there has been no improvement under any Ukrainian leadership during that time.

Perhaps yet more help with financing the institutional changes will be forthcoming – but Ukraine has to do the hard work itself.  It is not the responsibility of Mrs Merkel, Germany, the EU or anybody else.

Lastly, Germany is one of quite a number of Member States wary of Ukrainian membership of the EU.  That said it is also law abiding and treaty conscious.  Article 49 quite clearly states any European nation can join the EU if it meets the grade, and whilst obviously a nation within the European continent – meet the grade, Ukraine clearly does not.

There is no point in opening any of the 31 Chapters of the acquis communautaire if Ukraine is light years from being able to fully meet the requirements of the far less demanding Association Agreement/DCFTA – unless Mr Yatseniuk either wants an accession process lasting as long as that of Turkey, or believes that large and sustained civil protests in support of “European values” somehow provides a fast track or circumvention around such minor matters as the acquis.

The issue of Visa Free travel is already subject to a process – and it is Ukraine that is dragging its heels.  The EU Schengen Area members have not once changed the goalposts, and they are the same goalposts which neighbour and fellow EaP nation, Moldova has now managed to meet.  Moldova should be Visa-free by the summer.

Why should Moldova have to meet the same requirements as those given to Ukraine, for Ukraine to then be allowed to ignore them because of the recent protests?  Whatever slack there was within the wording of that agreement has probably all been employed within the recent EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement that has come into force – an agreement to make things as easy as possible whilst waiting for Ukraine to sort itself out regarding the technical requirements of biometrics etc.

Perhaps some form of Marshall Plan is being sought?  If so, then post war Germany and Japan gave up key governmental positions to foreigners to run in order to put matters on the road to a consolidated recovery in a thoroughly transparent manner – in short insuring a return for their time and money offered by way of real transformation.  Is he prepared to do that, and in doing so admit that the Ukrainian political class are simply not up to the job?  Would the Ukrainian public swallow such a move?

So dismissing a Marshall Plan – What is the domestic policy plan to get Ukraine from where it is now to where it wants it to be?  If it exists when will the nation be told – and just how painful and for how long will the pain last in accomplishing it?

If a Balcerowicz Plan is on the policy horizon, then have the good sense to inform the nation as early as possible – just as Poland did!

What exactly is Mr Yatseniuk expecting from Mrs Merkel?  This would appear to be a flight of fancy when it comes to what Mr Yatseniuk expects from Chancellor Merkel – and more to the point what the Euromaidan crowds may expect from Mrs Merkel after Mr Yatseniuk’s words yesterday.

Expectations based upon the rhetoric of Mr Yatseniuk – as so often before – are unlikely to be met before he leaves Berlin.  Returning to inform the Euromaidan crowds of a stunning political and diplomatic success seems an extremely remote possibility.  Returning with many encouraging words and few deeds, far more realistic.

He should hope for a clear and robust statement from Germany that it will no longer see Ukraine as a price worth paying for cordial relations with Russia.

He may well get a few Euro millions in additional financing with less demanding caveats to anything the IMF may throw at Ukraine in the future.  After all the current President was offered Euro 20 billion over a 10 year period in Euro 2 billion tranches by the EU – so that money theoretically is still there.

Perhaps German lobbying within the EU will be forthcoming on certain issues where some consensus may be reached – if the price to Germany in “trade-offs” within the Brussels machinery is not too high.

Lastly support via suitable threats (with real intent) in relation to less than free and fair elections would be welcomed.

If Messrs Yatseniuk and Klitschko really want to know what they can expect from the EU, they would be far better off attending the next European Council meeting comprised of all EU Foreign Ministers – though the discord and differing answers that would follow are unlikely to be what they would want to hear, as the issue of “EU” sanctions clearly demonstrated.

The EU Member States clearly have not yet arrived at a consensus as to what they want and how they are prepared to achieve it with regard to Ukraine past anything contained within the AA/DCFTA agreements.  At most, they have arrived at what they don’t want to see happen – but no more than that.

In the meantime, the opposition demand to return to the 2004 Constitution of Ukraine is quite clearly going to fail in the RADA tomorrow – and allegedly President Putin’s grey cardinal, Mr Surkov is meeting with the leaders of the Crimean parliament.  Shenanigans afoot undoubtedly!

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