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"Postup" ¹40 (897) 21-27 March 2002

Long way of Ukraine to united Europe

Transeuropean Association for Political Studies located in Brussels together with the Bureau of Ukraine at the European Commission organized the conference "Ukraine - European Union" that took place along with discussions between Ukrainian government and EU official representatives. Taras Voznyak, chief-editor of "Ji" magazine, was one of those who were invited for the conference.

- What was the goal of this conference?

- It was an international forum dedicated to discussion of the EU extension. The concern of European Union is Ukraine’s reaction to the next wave of EU integration and its impact on Ukraine. This mainly relates to the status of Shengen states that will be acquired by Hungary and Poland. For the time being, Ukrainians have an access to Central Europe, but in a year and a half-free access for Ukraine will be barred. This will be accompanied with the other restrictions related to external trade, military and political domains, etc.

Ukraine has for the next time raised an issue of its participation in the EU processes, not as a passive observer, but as an active participant in the processes of European integration. Finally, the construction of high wall that would prevent radioactive vapours from Ukrainian atomic stations to fly to Western Europe or poisonous chemicals from Romania to get into Hungary and Ukraine through Tysa.

- How would you word the main problem within the context?

- The thing is that Brussels has neither material resources and political will, nor a full-fledged plan of Ukraine’s close cooperation with the EU. Remind you, integration into EU can only be the task for the future.

- If such a plan does not exist, what could have been the subject of discussion?

- First of all, the need to develop an image of Ukraine within EU scope in Brussels. It has to be proved that Ukraine wants to become a subject, not an object of integration processes. For those Ukrainians who care, it is a fact that Ukraine faces only one way - integration into EU.

This thesis does not have the relevant feedback in Brussels, as they treat Ukraine as a state located near Kazakhstan.

- Does Kyiv have a clear vision of Ukraine’s integration in the EU?

- Ukraine has submitted an official proposal - "Seven-years plan of integration into the European Union", Ukraine is working on the compliance of Ukrainian laws with the European legislature. In its turn, EU has developed a strategy towards Ukraine, but this is a mere document, an intention that is not supported by real steps. One of the main EU principles is its openness to those who are attracted by freedoms proclaimed by EU. However, frontiers are disappearing in Europe, but are being built between Ukraine and Poland. )

- Does Ukraine meets the basic EU criteria?

- Not yet, but as much as Romania that is an associated member does not meet the main EU requirements and Turkey, that permits war against Kurds on its territory. At the same time Ukraine is underestimated as a possible candidate. Ukrainian politicians who took part in the conference have accentuated on these issues.

- Who were these representatives from the Ukrainian part?

- For instance, Anatoly Orel, President’s Advisor for Foreign Affairs said: "It has to be stated that EU vision of Ukraine’s position in EU has not changed significantly. Ukraine is associated with unstable 'postsoviet countries' similar to the way it was 10 years ago”.

- What were EU arguments?

- They pointed to the urgent issue of migration and to the real threat of illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh travelling through Ukraine. The counter-argument to this can be a survey showing the variety of nationalities and number of foreign inhabitants in Brussels, Paris and Ukraine. I don’t think Ukraine represents a threat to multicultural Europe.

In general, EU governmental officials are quite evasive in discussions on Ukraine’s isolation in Europe. It seems that Ukraine’s way to Europe will be rather long.

Interviewed by Lyubko Petrenko