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Flattering to deceive? – Ukrainian Foreign Ministry

November 24, 2015

On 18th November, the EU issued its “Review of the European Neigbourhood Policy” which seemed to garner a rather gushing and flattering response from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

MFA_UA_Full

“Since the beginning of the ENP review the Ukrainian side took an active part in this process promoting the necessity to single out the Eastern Partnership as a separate dimension of EU policy with more ambitious instruments which would suit better European aspirations of the Eastern European partners.

….we note the readiness of the European Commission and EU High Representative to define jointly with the partners the shape of the future relationship taking into account particularities of bilateral relations with each of them.

It is important that the reviewed ENP at last pays an additional attention to the security dimension. Temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation as well as blatant Russian aggression in Donbas highlight the need to elaborate efficient mechanisms for dealing with security challenges which are common for the partner countries and the EU.”

All well and good –  Except there is very little in the way of vision in the revamped and far more transactionally orientated review.  The lofty goal of prosperity is joined much more prominently by security and stability – but whose interpretation of security and stability and how that may be achieved is entirely open to question.

For a nation such as Ukraine, the ratified Association Agreement already commits parties to a cooperative and converging foreign and security policy under Article 7 of the agreement:

Article 7 Foreign and security policy

1. The Parties shall intensify their dialogue and cooperation and promote gradual convergence in the area of foreign and security policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and shall address in particular issues of conflict prevention and crisis management, regional stability, disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and arms export control as well as enhanced mutually-beneficial dialogue in the field of space. Cooperation will be based on common values and mutual interests, and shall aim at increasing policy convergence and effectiveness, and promoting joint policy planning. To this end, the Parties shall make use of bilateral, international and regional fora.

And as asked more than a year ago, what CSDP?  Does the EU have one?

The ENP review almost entirely ignores the Russia question to the East (or problem nations to its South) – giving the impression that not only does the newly reviewed ENP lack a neighbourhood vision, but also that the EU is still without a “Russia Strategy” (or any prickly “Nation X Strategy” to the south).  Geopolitics – or more precisely an EU geopolitical strategy – it appears, does not play much of a part in the ENP review – nor it seems any EU CSDP to which Ukraine is now treaty bound to cooperate and converge upon.

Without labouring the point, there is in fact nothing within the policy review that is new or indeed exciting for Ukraine – perhaps that is necessarily so with a ratified Association Agreement to work from, and toward implementing.  It is difficult to imagine anything within a broad ENP policy review that is not superseded and more focused in a bilateral agreement of the scale of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

The question therefore is why the overly wax-lyrical response from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry when absolutely nothing changes for Ukraine?  Such flattery is meant to deceive, or such flattery is meant to curry favour within the EEAS in Brussels?  It all seems rather “over the top” for something that has now (almost) past its “Sell Buy” date as far as Ukraine is concerned.

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