Thursday, July 15, 2004

Yo - EU! At least try to get it!

RFERL writing about a report about Ukrainian President Kuchma and the upcoming presidential elections in October in JANE'S INTELLIGENCE DIGEST :

"The EU and NATO, as well as the United States, have warned Kuchma that October's election must be free and fair or he risks jeopardizing his country's further integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. But "Jane's" remarks that "the impact of such threats rests upon the supposition that Kuchma remains sincere in his desire for Ukraine to join the EU and NATO."
The EU threats remain empty because Brussels is not actually offering Ukraine membership -- thus Kyiv has little incentive to play by EU rules. Kuchma might also feel he can ignore these warnings because he has earned praise from the U.S. administration for sending the largest non-NATO-member military force to Iraq.
Unless stronger pressure is brought to bear against Kuchma, it is unlikely that he will permit free elections to take place," "Jane's" says. "Kuchma and his allies do not see NATO membership as urgent enough to justify the risk of implementing genuine democratic reforms or holding free elections."

True, Kuchma is a thug and believes that he can run Ukraine as he sees fit. True that he may also feel that he is partially off the US hook because he sent quite a large Ukrainian military contingent to Iraq. But, and there are several buts, Ukraine's place in Europe is not determined by its relationship with the United States. Certainly, these days, the US standing in Europe is hardly inspiring and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for the most part looks towards its neighbours in Europe and not the US.  
Ukraine now borders the EU and longs for not only membership but perhaps more importantly, acceptance as a European state. And here is the BIG BUT, Europe is offering Ukraine nothing, zero, zilch, nada, nichoho. On the other hand Russia is putting a great deal of pressure on Ukraine through it's economic and intelligence structures (see Putin's Imperialism) and what's more, offers Ukraine membership in its club. And Ukraine really, really wants to be a member of a club. Especially the European one, but if they can't have that, the Russian one will have to do. Poland, Estonia and other former Soviet bloc countries have understood that about Ukraine perhaps because they also understand that they need Ukraine with them to help stem continuing threats from Russia. They have been urging the rest of the EU to step up to bat for Ukraine but the rest of Europe hasn't quite gotten that yet and still believes that the stick works better with Ukraine than the carrot. The Europeans are wrong.


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