Germany is one of the few European Union countries consistently supporting Ukraine’s decision to integrate into the EU. German politicians were among first to start talks about the prospects for Ukraine’s associate membership in the organization. Many good words about Ukraine were said in course of Germany’s Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer’s latest visit to Kyiv.
The visit is notable in that it was timed to coincide with the Ukraine-EU Yalta summit where issues of Kyiv-Brussels relations after the EU enlargement scheduled for May 2004 where discussed. One could call October 7 and 8 days of the EU in Ukraine. This is even more important because recently this country decided to join the Single Economic Space, which European officials treat with a certain caution. Recall that earlier Germany’s Ambassador to Ukraine Dietmar Stuedemann spoke of a certain contradiction in Ukraine’s simultaneous integration into the SES and EU. After last Wednesday’s meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Kostiantyn Hrishchenko, Minister Fischer stressed that the EU future enlargement will be a chance for Kyiv in terms of conducting democratic reform. “Due to the European Union enlargement to the East, Ukraine will obtain an extra chance of which it should take advantage,” he stated. Next May ten countries of Central and Eastern Europe will enter the European Union, thus making Ukraine its immediate neighbor. In this connection the European Commission has worked out a special concept according to which Brussels will build relations with its new neighbors.
Minister Fischer also expressed his hope that official Kyiv will proceed and successfully complete implementing its reforms. In his view, EU enlargement will allow Ukraine to make the necessary transformations to create a democratic civil society. In this way, the vice chancellor is convinced, Ukraine could improve its international image. The influential German politician also noted the progress achieved by Ukraine on the path of reforms in the last three years: “I can see changes everywhere. Last time I was in Ukraine in 2000, and now I can see the progress it has made since then.”
In his turn, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Hrishchenko mentioned that “much attention was given to the issues of Ukraine’s European future” in course of the talks.
Minister Fischer’s visit to Kyiv began last Tuesday by opening the Days of German Culture in Ukraine. In part, the minister spoke for deepening cultural cooperation between the two countries. He thanked Kyiv once again for transferring to Berlin the Johann Sebastian Bach archive. Joschka Fisher is the most popular politician in Germany and no less popular in other European countries. It is worth mention that many European leaders view him as a future European Union foreign minister (this position could appear if the current EU draft constitution is approved). However, Minister Fischer did not give any clear answer to such assumptions. The only thing known for certain is that he is a strong advocate of EU enlargement to the East. Who knows, maybe he could find a place for Ukraine in his foreign policy tastes.