Ukrainewill not turn from the path of European integration. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara tried to reassure Ukrainian business and foreign ambassadors in invariability of this argument at the meeting organized by the European Business Association.
In his speech Kozhara noted that today Ukraine’s main trading partner is not only the EU, but also Russia. Ukraine’s trade turnover with Russia last year reached 57 billion dollars. In this regard, he said, Ukraine is considering cooperation with the Customs Union. The main obstacle in the negotiations with the Customs Union, in his opinion, is that the country cannot participate in all the processes of the association without full accession to the Customs Union. “I think that it is also a matter of wise negotiation. Why? The history of the operation of many economic formations suggests that any country can find common ground and the ways to cooperate with other economic associations. Here we can talk about the status of associate membership and partial accession to various statutory documents,” said Kozhara.
Answering the question of the moderator as to whether it means that Ukraine has changed its mind about integration to the EU, choosing the Customs Union as a new priority, Kozhara said no. He stressed: “The legislation of Ukraine defines European integration as a priority of foreign policy.” According to him, by the end of 2013 it is expected that Ukraine will sign the Association Agreement with the EU. However, as Kozhara stressed, it would be better if Europe would be more active in recognizing Ukraine’s aspirations. “Up until now Ukraine has not received an invitation from the EU to start negotiations on membership in the EU,” said Kozhara looking at the head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Jan Tombinski, who sat next to him. Without any guarantees as to the future integration Ukraine, according to Kozhara, is faced with a difficult task: what and to what extent should be implemented from the European legislation. “If Ukraine is not a member of the EU and as to this moment does not have any prospects of membership, it is not possible to implement acquis communautaire to full extent in some sectors, such as, let’s say, agriculture. It creates certain problems,” explained the minister. Thus, now the floor is to Europe.
“Will the EU sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine [if Tymoshenko remains in jail. – Author]? The decision will be made by the leaders of the EU. This is a very sensitive issue,” said Tombinsky in response to all the comments and the question about the role of the release of opposition leaders in Europe’s recognition of Ukraine. “Electoral justice, as well as economic justice, fair taxation, business freedom are also very important for Ukraine. Ukraine has to convince the EU that people in this country are all judged based on the rule of law. How does the fact that the leaders of former government are in prison on the process? The world is watching it because those people who worked in the government back then, they made decisions on international arena. Therefore, everyone is closely watching what is happening. That’s why there is no other way than to try and convince the international community that the issue will be resolved only within the legal framework,” summed up the representative of the EU.
Settlement of the issues mentioned by Tombinsky is Ukraine’s pass ticket to the EU. It is unlikely that all of the addressed issues can be resolved before the EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels scheduled for February 25, 2013. However, we should move in this direction, especially since the situation is favorable. Thus, according to British newspaper Financial Times, “Moscow’s strong-hand tactics” may result in unpleasant outcome – Ukraine’s return to Europe. “Terms of the partnership with Russia are too burdensome for Kyiv. The most recent conditions for gas supply will impose even a greater need for the IMF’s credit for Ukraine (which clings to everything it can to cover the external sovereign debt of ten billion dollars this year). This gives the IMF and the EU a lever they should use,” Tyzhden.ua quotes Financial Times.