Monday, 14 January 2013
Top Ukraine Diplomat Dispels 'Myths' About Relationship With EU
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Ukraine's ambassador to the EU Kostiantyn Yeliseiev has moved to dispel "myths" about his country's relationship with Brussels. Yeliseiev focuses in particular on the prospects of a potentially lucrative association agreement between the EU and Ukraine. The issue is expected to discussed at the next EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels on February 25. Yeliseiev said, "We enter a new year which will certainly decide the fate of the agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Both the supporters of European integration of Ukraine and its opponents await this decision." "This is indeed the moment of truth, a choice, which will determine the vector of Ukraine's development for the next decade." He said it was "not surprising" that the issue of an agreement was "being debated at all levels," adding, "There are different opinions." He added, "Overall, this is a good thing, a sign that foreign policy discourse in Ukraine is as active as domestic political life." However, one of several "myths" he wished to dispel, he said, was that failure to sign the agreement would "indicate a crisis" in relations between the EU and Ukraine. He said, "This myth constantly changes. For a long time there was an assumption that not signing the agreement at the EU-Ukraine summit in December 2011 was the failure of Kiev in relations with Brussels." "Then, throughout 2012, despite the incompleteness of technical procedures, there were assumptions that the EU did not want to sign the agreement." "However, the rate and volume of technical work on preparation of the agreement, including the translation of multi-pages text into 23 official languages of the EU, show that the signing of the document in 2011-2012 could not have even been considered as an option." "Only in 2013 is the signing of the agreement real." Another "myth" he wished to counter was that accession to the customs union would be more profitable for Ukraine than economic integration into the EU. He said a free trade agreement with the EU would provide access to a market that is larger - 500 million consumers in the EU versus 170 million in the customs union - and more "predictable", with a much higher purchasing power from consumers. "An FTA with the EU will contribute to improving the business climate in Ukraine, ensuring the transition from Soviet to European 'rules of the game' in the Ukrainian domestic market." "In other words, we are talking about strengthening the rule of law and guaranteeing equal opportunities for investors." "Economic integration with the EU is the path to modernisation. Look at the progress the European countries of the former Socialist union have made in the last 20 years." "The vast majority of them are already members of the EU, while Russia's economy continues to be based on commodity-driven exports. Russia itself is in need of radical modernisation, the proof of which is the launch of a special initiative with the EU under the telling title 'partnership for modernisation'." He added, "Accession to the customs union may grant Ukraine only short-term dividends: a few billion dollars." "However, an association agreement with the EU provides explicit legal and political guarantees of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state."