On October 15 the International Conference “The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, the Free Trade Area: Challenges and Possibilities for Economy and Investments” started in the European Parliament.
Over 150 journalists were present in the conference hall. Only Ukraine sent to Brussels 45 media workers. The conference was opened by the former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski. Obviously, he was the key person in the European Parliament that day. Despite his very optimistic speech he opened the conference with, one could see that he was very nervous. On the same day the former Polish president had to report about the work of Cox-Kwasniewski mission.
There are several key theses of Kwasniewski’s speech that should be emphasized. First of all, the politician assured that he strongly believes that the Vilnius Summit will finish with signing the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Quoting the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele speaking about lack of options for signing the Association Agreement, Kwasniewski assured: “I can say with pleasure that significant progress has been achieved in reforming the Ukrainian judiciary, in particular, the new Criminal Procedural Code, new provisions concerning advocacy and prosecution have been adopted. We have also seen the readiness to change the functioning of the Ukrainian election system and correct the faults that have been noticed by the European observers.” Kwasniewski also emphasized: “We are communicating with the Ukrainian authorities and we hope to be able to come up with a decision as for the necessity for Tymoshenko to be operated on. I think we will be able to find a legally grounded decision that will satisfy everybody. During the press conference Kwasniewski also informed that Cox-Kwasniewski mission will continue its work in Ukraine.”
However, it looks like more and more European MEPs tend to think that the interests of Ukraine should not depend on one politician’s destiny, whose biography is also ambiguous.
Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Kostiantyn Hryshchenko believes that the current political situation has a very important aspect that “will allow Ukraine to enter the EU and keep its integrity which is the leadership of the President Yanukovych.” According to Hryshchenko, Yanukovych has high rating in the East and West and uses this advantage to consolidate the society as for the question of European integration. However, he remarked, by doing so the president risks his political reputation. Obviously, it was a hint on the decrease of Yanukovych’s rating among his pro-Russian electorate. The other aspect emphasized by Hryshchenko was the compromise the Ukrainian political forces managed to achieve by now. “Even if it is not a consensus, it is an alliance concerning different questions,” he said.
The deputy prime minister also stressed that “during a very short period of time we have managed to do more than over the past ten years. It was not that we did not want to do it, but we did not have a consensus.”
Hryshchenko also emphasized that Ukraine hopes that the European solidarity will extend to Ukraine as well. “This solidarity has to apply on Ukraine. The solidarity is very important for us. We need it not only as advice, but in practice. We are facing a lot of questions, in particular, financial ones. I believe that cooperation with the IMF and the European Commission will help us solve these questions. Now I am speaking about a decima of what the EU can do for Ukraine.” Speaking about the future of Ukraine, Kostiantyn Hryshchenko emphasized that “the future is the membership in the EU.” “The Association Agreement will be of help for all of us... Today we are all focusing on the association, but we want to see the final goal, the membership,” the deputy prime minister emphasized.
At the same time, speaking about Cox-Kwasniewski mission, Hryshchenko said: “I cannot see any problems in the prolongation of the mission. This mission is not aiming at promoting this or that policymaker. It is aiming at a better understanding of different circumstances that have to be taken into account when solving some systematic or even particular problems. These are politicians with a lot of experience and tolerance. Kwasniewski knows the Ukrainian reality perfectly well as he has visited our country more than any political leaders. That is why the prolongation of the mission will be of use for Ukraine.” Kostiantyn Hryshchenko also stressed that he does not see anything negative in the fact that “a person, respected in Poland, Europe and Ukraine, has come to Ukraine several times.”