Eu/ukraine : Eu Stance towards Kiev Leaves Experts Divided

Europe-East, September 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

Eu/ukraine : Eu Stance towards Kiev Leaves Experts Divided


Experts are divided over the outcome of the EU-Ukraine summit, held on 9 September in Paris. While some say that the EU should have gone further and make a more concrete offer to Kiev amid tensions in the Caucasus, others argue that the Union went as far as it could in view of the ongoing political instability in Ukraine.

At the summit, hosted by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the EU offered Ukraine an association-type agreement with three key objectives: establishing "in the long-term perspective" a visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine, pointing out that future ties remain "open," and emphasising that the country shares a common history and values with Europe. The joint declaration stopped short of recognising Kiev's EU membership prospect. Both the EU and Ukraine hope to sign the new association agreement by the end of 2009.

In view of recent events in Georgia, "the EU should have indicated more precisely that it is indeed interested in Ukraine to become its member in a long-term perspective," Amanda Akcakoca, policy analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC), told Europolitics New Neighbours. Instead, the summit "left the question of future EU-Ukraine relations open," increasing already "strong scepticism among the Ukrainian people concerning Europe," she added.

Fraser Cameron, director of the EU-Russia Centre, argues, in turn, that the EU has gone far enough by recognising Ukraine's European identity. "There is no consensus within the EU on offering Ukraine a membership prospect now," he said, dismissing claims that the Union's cautious approach towards Ukraine resulted from a fear to upset Russia. "It is not because of Russia, but because Ukraine has been constantly failing to fulfill its commitments," Cameron said, referring to the ongoing political instability in the country and the lack of progress in EU-related reforms. According to Cameron, the opening of a visa-free regime dialogue and the Union's clearly expressed support for Ukraine's European aspirations are "very important signals". Commenting on Ukraine's territorial integrity, Cameron said that "it is not realistic" that the Crimea [Ukrainian region inhabited by large Russian-speaking minority, up to 60%] could become Russia's next target. …

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