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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Ukraine-EU relations

Well, after Turkey and Croatia, now it looks like Brussels is turning its attention to Ukraine, with Orange Revolution head Victor Yuschenko’s Prime Minister (no, not the fit one, she’s gone – the new one…) heading off for talks in Belgium today.

However, despite some friendly talks between Ukraine and Finland over the last few days with Finnish PM Matti Vanhanen’s trip to Kiev (including hints that Finland’s EU presidency could see the start of discussions about an EU-Ukraine free trade zone), plus positive Commission comments about a new visa agreement, not all’s well.

After all, considering the on-going EU/Iran nuclear standoff, and especially considering yesterday’s somewhat idiotic public announcement from Britain blaming Iran for British troop losses in Iraq (way to heighten tension there, whichever moron decided to make these claims public), the idea of opening negotiations with another country with a less than tranquil past is going to be made somewhat less fun by the news that Ukraine’s just been involved in talks with Iran to set up energy and aircraft manufacture co-operation

Either way, Ukraine still has some way to go before it can meet the standards required. It’s a complex, unstable mess over there: a slowly recovering post-Soviet new state torn between Russia and Europe, riddled with petty corruption and powerful politico-industrial factions working behind the scenes. While Yuschenko may be a decided improvement on his predecessors, there are still doubts, and whether the crisis has been resolved is, as yet, uncertain.

Either way, I think we can probably – no matter our views on the EU – all agree it will be better for the people of Ukraine if the country shifts westwards to Brussels, high ideals and human rights rather than back eastwards to Moscow, Putin and political repression. Yet another case where the promise of possible EU membership could do much good. That’s the thing, guys – the EU is as important for its aspirational, ideological, symbolic value as it is for what it actually achieves. Ukraine may currently have only the first foot on the path to revival, but these early talks with the EU could help ensure that the next steps are taken in the right direction – and the EU is in by far the best position to do this.

4 Comments

  1. Excpet that if the EU invites Ukraine in, this will be see by many Russians as a an economic invasion of "their area of influence".

    With the EU border on the Russian border, the Russians will find it extremely hard to continue their current trade links.

    ****ing the Russians is of course an incedibly popular idea in Eastern Europe. This doesn't make it a good idea.

  2. Russia's always going to be a problem – but the EU's already got a (disputed) border with Russia in the shape of Latvia and Estonia, so it won't be anything especially new – just on a larger scale.

    In any case, I very much doubt Ukraine would be ready to join for at least another decade – by which stage Putin will have long been out of office (assuming his hints that he's not going to run again are true) and Russia could – just possibly – be a very different place…

    As I say, a certain amount of optimism and wishful thinking's part of the whole being pro-EU thing…

  3. I remember reading some quotes from some top chaps in the Ukraine just after the revolution declaring that the prospect of EU membership (and the consequent convergence) was way more important than actually joining.

    Actually joining, would, presumably, demand an answer to the 'Kaliningrad question', which would be good for no other reason than no bugger has any clue about what to do with it at the moment and it'd fun watching them squirm for a bit…

  4. Mind you, Anon, it takes two to tango; there's little point being up to yer arse in natural gas if you're not selling the stuff.

    I suspect if/when the EU border arrives on Russia's doorstep they'll be gagging for access…hold on, the EU's border already has arrived on Russia's doorstep, in fact on Vladimir Putin's own personal hometown doorstep. Don't forget Finland.

    Remember – we are the Borg and you will be assimilated!