The Ukraine, Brussels, sticks and carrots.
Posted by democratist on November 2, 2010
2nd November 2010,
Yesterday Democratist reported on questions surrounding the validity of Sunday’s local election results in Ukraine, and suggested it might have been preferable for the OSCE to field a more substantial team than the four international observers they employed for these elections.
Additionally in our opinion, these apparent recent electoral shenanigans do much to confirm the analysis set out in a recent paper by the Centre for European Reform (CER); “Ukraine turns away from democracy and the EU.”
The CER’s main point is that, while Ukraine has not yet turned towards Russia as such under Yanukovich, there has been a clear shift back towards authoritarianism since the presidential elections this February; opposition TV channels have been closed down, foreign foundations and universities harassed, presidential rule restored through a manipulated constitutional court, and criminal proceedings launched against senior figures from the previous administration.
Democratist agrees with the CER that it is high time for the EU to take note of what is going on in Ukraine, and act on it.
We need to see tougher statements coming out of Brussels and member state capitals; we need to see Catherine Ashton visiting Kiev, ideally accompanied by national leaders and/or other senior officials to underline the importance the EU attaches to Ukraine’s continued democratization (these could be linked to trade issues), and we need to see Ashton and others giving interviews to embattled local media outlets.
These issues should also be raised in detail at the next EU-Ukraine summit on 22nd November.
We also need to see progress on people-to-people issues such as the conclusion of an “action plan” on visas, which would spell out the steps Ukraine needs to take for the EU to abolish visa requirements altogether. More scholarships for students would also be useful.
Ideally, of course, the EU should offer Ukraine a long-term membership prospective (although this seems very unlikely at the moment given the economic climate, and reticence from Germany and the Netherlands).
But, as the CER makes clear, the EU still has a number of both sticks and carrots at its disposal.