Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished

The recent Eastern Partnership saga, culminating with Ukraine’s decision to ditch the Association Agreement (AA) with Europe at the Vilnius EU summit on November 29, is a dramatic story with many plot twists. The moral of that story must still be learned if its disastrous repercussions are to be avoided.

Published on: December 2, 2013
Lilia Shevtsova, an AI editorial board member, is senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
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  • Julie Leighton

    Ukraine: an EU Image Victory

    In many ways, the current Ukrainian situation could not be better for the EU. An Association Agreement (AA) that was poorly constructed, marginally conceptualized, and that offered only a paltry economic package and minimal infrastructural development opportunities, has ignited and divided a nation. The globally popular political prisoner, Yulia Tymoshenko, has become the face of an opposition that is actively and desperately vying for association with the floundering and debt-ridden, German-led conglomerate. The combination of Yanukovych’s complaints of pressuring tactics and such concrete actions as the August Trade Wars has reaffirmed Russia’s regional bully status in Western eyes. All in all, the failed Association Agreement was the best thing to happen for the EU’s image in a long time: a massive public relations coup.

    How to maintain this newly reinstated credibility and further the Ukrainian cause? Substantiate the Association Agreement.

    Restructure the AA so that it is a concrete and realistic alternative to the Russian option. Funding, loans, debt forgiveness, gas provisions, trade opportunities, educational advances, infrastructural and technical developments all should be accounted for in the new proposal. Russia has clearly stated its position. If the EU has serious intentions for Ukraine then it should make the appropriate provisions and take the necessary steps to counter the Russian backlash.

    In the future, it should also be clear that the signing of Association Agreements are contingent on policies of differentiality, and that this differentiality is a two way street. It is reasonable for EaP states to expect that the EU will create a unique and comprehensive Association Agreement for each member. The generic and anemic offer that Ukraine received should not be repeated.

    The riots in Ukraine prove that EU membership, despite the organization’s inadequacies, is still significant, even more so than Russian threats of retribution. The least the EU can do is offer the country a membership package that will make the risk of joining worth it.

  • Julie Leighton

    Ukraine: an EU Image Victory

    In many ways, the current Ukrainian situation could not be better for the EU. An Association Agreement (AA) that was poorly constructed, marginally conceptualized, and that offered only a paltry economic package and minimal infrastructural development opportunities, has ignited and divided a nation. The globally popular political prisoner, Yulia Tymoshenko, has become the face of an opposition that is actively and desperately vying for association with the floundering and debt-ridden, German-led conglomerate. The combination of Yanukovych’s complaints of pressuring tactics and such concrete actions as the August Trade Wars has reaffirmed Russia’s regional bully status in Western eyes. All in all, the failed Association Agreement was the best thing to happen for the EU’s image in a long time: a massive public relations coup.

    How to maintain this newly reinstated credibility and further the Ukrainian cause? Substantiate the Association Agreement.

    Restructure the AA so that it is a concrete and realistic alternative to the Russian option. Funding, loans, debt forgiveness, gas provisions, trade opportunities, educational advances, infrastructural and technical developments all should be accounted for in the new proposal. Russia has clearly stated its position. If the EU has serious intentions for Ukraine then it should make the appropriate provisions and take the necessary steps to counter the Russian backlash.

    In the future, it should also be clear that the signing of Association Agreements are contingent on policies of differentiality, and that this differentiality is a two way street. It is reasonable for EaP states to expect that the EU will create a unique and comprehensive Association Agreement for each member. The generic and anemic offer that Ukraine received should not be repeated.

    The riots in Ukraine prove that EU membership, despite the organization’s inadequacies, is still significant, even more so than Russian threats of retribution. The least the EU can do is offer the country a membership package that will make the risk of joining worth it.

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