The European Council Secretary General and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier SOLANA when interviewed by The Day carefully refrained from giving appraisals of the current situation in Ukraine. The interview that was given after the Kyiv negotiations looks probably excessively diplomatic. However, constant reminding of the necessity to pursue “the right course,” the course of reforms, and mentioning “concern” more than once means a lot in the language of diplomacy.
According to Mr. Solana, developing “in proper direction” means that as a result Ukraine is to have the same values, structures, and priorities as the EU countries do.
Solana’s visit coincided with an obvious desire of many Ukrainian lawmakers for the resignation of Yushchenko’s cabinet, with whom directly or indirectly the West associated Ukrainian reforms.
The top EU official’s second visit to Kyiv this year is evidence of the EU being far from indifferent to the situation in Ukraine, which, however, remains not completely comprehensible to it. Solana had meetings in Kyiv with the President Leonid Kuchma, the NDSC Secretary Yevhen Marchuk, and Verkhovna Rada Speaker Ivan Pliushch, who informed him on the situation in the country, as well as with opposition representatives Oleksandr Moroz and Oleksandr Turchynov. Solana was surprised by the existence of several oppositions, though he, unlike US government representatives, declined any comment.
Solana’s visit is also evidence that Ukraine, perhaps due to its crisis, is assuming its own meaning in EU eyes. Obviously, it will try to conduct its own careful, moderate, but independent policy, which can in perspective be an advantage for the Union itself in the context of increasing its influence. Thus even standard answers can be an interesting sign.
“To what extent does the level of relations between the EU and Ukraine depend on who occupies the key posts in the state?”
“We don’t interfere in Ukraine’s political life. The only thing that we’d like to see is that the process of reforms is not stopped. For us this is the most important thing. Whatever decisions this country takes, for you and for the relations with the EU it will be fundamental that the process of the reforms be maintained on the economic side and on the democratic side.
“The cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union is very profound. I was here during the visit of the troika, and I’m here again today to talk to the president and to the leaders of the opposition. We have a very normal and constructive relationship, we are good friends, and we talk frankly among ourselves. We are not only friends but partners, we have the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Ukraine is an important European country.”
“In your view, what stage is Ukraine now living through? What steps should it undertake?”
“From my point of view, you have a lot to do for your political development. I hope that you will show in a positive manner your results in the process of reforms. The continuation of this process will be very significant for the development of your cooperation with the European Union.”
“Can we say that the success of these reforms will be the only condition, after executing which Ukraine will be able to apply for the EU membership?”
“Ukraine and the EU do not discuss membership in the European Union at the moment. But the process of reforms is fundamental for the economic development in your country and also for relations with international organizations. I know that for the relations you have with the World Trade Organization, the reform process is also very important.”
“The EU expressed its concern with the situation surrounding the Gongadze case investigation. Has this position been changed after your meetings with the Ukrainian leadership?”
“All I can say is what we said from the very beginning: that it has to be clarified and the investigation conducted in a transparent manner.”
“There is a widespread opinion in Ukraine that the EU does not always meet its obligations, for instance, ones connected with Chornobyl closure — I mean the situation with financing construction of two nuclear power units.”
“The European Union completes all its obligations in the same manner as the rest of the international community. We are very pleased to see that Chornobyl is in our past and we can look to the future for the solution to this problem.”
“What is your opinion on enlisting Ukraine in European security policy?”
“The relationship between Ukraine and the European security is very positive. We approved a decision at the last summit of the European Union to make a mechanism for Ukraine’s participation. We are going to develop that, so the principles are to be worked out. If Ukraine does want to participate in crisis management, we welcome it.”
“What role could Ukraine play then for the European security?”
“Ukraine is a very important country for European security. It belongs to the Partnership for Peace program, and it also has very close relationship with the European Union economically and politically. With all this it will be able to participate in the peacekeeping operations with the EU. The collective security of Europe is still under the responsibility of NATO, and with NATO your country has a distinctive partnership.”
“Can we say that such cooperation in the security field could be the first step toward the real, not just proclaimed, integration of Ukraine into common European mechanisms?”
“As I said, Ukraine has a special relationship with the EU, both economically and politically, and we want to maintain and deepen it. What Ukraine has to do is to continue the process of economic and political reforms, which is very important. You are now at an important stage. The process of reform must not stop but continue.”
“There are many fears in Ukraine that with EU enlargement Ukraine could be isolated from the European processes, particularly on issues concerning the movement of people and goods. How this can be avoided?”
“Your country will not be isolated. On the contrary, all the decisions that we have taken were aimed on bringing your country closer to the European institutions. We are working very close with your country in order to prevent any difficulties that might emerge on the moment when other countries become members of the European Union. We have special committees concentrated on the topics related to the movement of people, trade, and travel, on which we are readily working with you.”
“You know that the issue of the cooperation between the EU and Russia in constructing pipelines bypassing Ukraine is very painful for Ukraine. Did you discuss this issue during your current visit?”
“We are in the course of discussing that with your authorities, so that you never become isolated from the fundamental economic and political decisions that we’ll take in Europe. What you need first is to have the energy esteem and to create conditions for attracting the investors.”
“Are you in fact satisfied with the existing level of relations [between the EU and Ukraine]? Can it be improved? What in EU- Ukraine relations could you describe as not as good as it could be?”
“I’m happy with our relations with your country, but, of course, everything can be improved. That’s what we are trying to do every day. The only concern that we have is that the country continues to move in the right direction with transparency in the political arena, in diplomatic behavior, and that you continue the reform of your tax system, privatization, etc.”