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Kiev still stuck in limbo -   Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung/Presseurop

The European Union refuses to give Ukraine a shot at EU accession, thereby leaving the country without any bright prospects and slowing its stabilisation. This will go down in history as a huge mistake, foresees the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

It is widely mooted that political chaos reigns in Ukraine. What goes unmentioned in these appraisals, however, is that the Ukraine's principal Western partner, the European Union, is partly to blame for keeping the country unmoored and adrift with no political destination in sight.

Hardly anyone would deny that the prospect of EU accession went a long way toward expediting the stabilisation and democratisation of Central Europe after the Soviet bloc fell apart. Precious few European politicians, however, are prepared to publicly pronounce the obvious corollary for the Ukraine. If participation in the European integration process, the prospect of and negotiations toward EU accession, had positive repercussions from Tallinn to Dublin, then the Ukraine, if denied even a shot at future EU membership, remains at sea and sorely deprived of the beneficial beacons that lit the way for its western neighbours.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 13th, 2009 at 03:03:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blaming the EU for Ukraine's troubles?

[Europe.Is.Doomed™ Alert]

Seriously, how stupid are they? It doesn't take rocket science to see that the contry is hopelessly corrupt, and totally blocked by the conflict between the 3 factions that fight it out in Kiev without one (or even two) ever taking over.

You can't offer EU membership to a country which is absolutely not ready for it - and of which large parts don't want it. And you can't offer it to a country which has 2,000km of completely open borders with Russia and Belarus, and an economy largely integrated with, or dominated by, Russian oligarchs...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 13th, 2009 at 06:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not, if you believed that Russia would be next?
by Sargon on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 04:29:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who believes Russia is going to join the EU when?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 04:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never, if EU isn't going to entertain the possibility. Which I find strange, given annoying habit of Eurocrats to lecture Russians on "European values" - if they assume Russia could accept those values (otherwise, what's the point in lecturing?), and if Europe is nothing but "Europe of values", then why not?

Russia IS a European country, much more so than Turkey. Total lack of imagination regarding a way of incorporating Russia into the European system is breathtaking. Neither current Russian elite nor Brussels self-styled keepers of "Europeanness" are serving our respective people well. Brussels is more guilty - the invitation comes from them, after all.

by Sargon on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 10:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A full analysis of the attitudes of the EU leadership towards Russia is beyond my pay-grade.  Suffice to say, the EU leaders are still operating under Cold War presuppositions slotting Russia into The Other Category.

 

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 11:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that the EU now includes Eastern Europe which doesn't have an alternative to nation-building other than using The Other (absolutely correctly, Russia), we all will have to wait until Baltics and Poland are happy with their nations and decide that the degree of Russophobia in their policy could be reduced.

Welcome to a word of tails wagging the dog.

by Sargon on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 11:15:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
doesn't have an alternative to nation-building other than using The Other (absolutely correctly, Russia)

Oh boy, but do they have plenty of other choices for Other... maybe with the exception of the Baltics.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 04:08:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need serious historical grievances, real or imagined.

For Poland, this is Partitions, and two out of three empires participating are now inside the EU together with them. And they actually escaped East to the West... so using Germans as the Other would be very problematic.

Many Czechs actually believe that the best things they got as a nation were brought in by Germans. Again, hard to use them as the Other. And on and on I could go...

If you want to, try reading Uses of the Other by Iver Neumann (it's extremely theoretical, be careful).

by Sargon on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 05:48:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so using Germans as the Other would be very problematic.

Yet, it was used regularly by the parties in the previous Polish government and the media associated with them [including, what a cynical hypocrisy, a tabloid owned by Axel Springer Verlag]. Polish Euroscepticism is in no small part Germanophobia. On this insane Right, there is substantial anti-semitism, too.

Many Czechs actually believe that the best things they got as a nation were brought in by Germans.

But, there is also the issue of the Sudeten Germans (throwing them out was a very concrete act of nation building, but so was the mythology of resistant Czechs and colaborating Sudeten-Germans built to support it 'morally'), the issue of on-going conflict with refugee organisations and Bavaria and Austria ('foreign meddling'), the Temelín conflict with Austria (which, the way I read it, was seen in the Czech Republic as one about Austria trying to lord over Czechs, too), and German multinationals buying up national symbol companies. In addition, for The Other, there are Gypsies...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 08:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm told by my Polish acquaintances that even in twins Germanophobia was less virulent than Russophobia, but cannot judge for myself. In the Czech Republic where I do live, Benes decrees are remembered mostly by politicians and officials at some pre-specified days during a year. Russia is invoked in seemingly unrelated contexts daily, by journalists and lay people. That's the biggest difference.

And of course, using gypsies as the official Other is non-PC. It still happens, but gets rarer and rarer.

by Sargon on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 10:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a generation of leaders who had their formative years after 1985. This means things might start moving in the right direction in 2010-2020...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 11:59:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, I could start wishing this New Year already! Marvelous ! :-)
by Sargon on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 05:49:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a generation of leaders who had their formative years after 1985.

Why would that count? In the older generations, there are people with different views too (even if most of them erx-communists). For the younger generations, views of Russia might be even more extreme because they know only the nationalist-coloured school history book/anniversary rememberence/domestic movie/party propaganda version of the previous era.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 08:26:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the EU doesn't see Russia as a political entity that can be "absorbed".

For some reason Russia is not part of the "Neighbourhood Policy" but EU-Russia relations are on a par with EU-US or EU-China relations.

Russia is already part of the "European System" - it is, most importantly (in particular, as regards "European values"), part of the Council of Europe (unlike Belarus). This is because it is a European Country. Given that, I see no point in the EU lecturing Russia on "European Values" either especially since nothing in being done about (say) Berlusconi.

Russia is not part of the European Economic Area. Could it be, and under what terms? One feature of the EEA is that the EU dictates terms to the non-EU members (they have to adopt the EU acquis to a large extent) and collects a market access levy from them. Adopting the EU acquis is also a requirement for EU accession. Again, I don't see the EU dictating legislation to Russia.

The EU doesn't invite countries to apply for membership. They do on their own, and then the EU agrees (or not) to open membership negotiations. It would be interesting to see what the EU would do if Russia decided to apply for EU membership. Again, I don't see Russia applying.

But, by the same reasoning, I don't know why Ukraine couldn't apply for EU membership and start negotiating. After all, the EU has opened negotiations with Turkey and is dictating legal reforms to it without (IMHO) any real prospects of actual accession in the next 10 to 15 years, and lots of noises from the Christian Democrats about keeping Turkey out by fiat.

If and when Ukraine decides through its own internal political process to apply for EU membership there's nothing the EU can do to prevent them from doing so. Same goes with Russia.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 11:56:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree Russia wont be absorbed. It would be more like cooperation. Perhaps this is what worries the EU the most.

EEA is problematic, given the dictat. Russia is resisting it in some areas (holding out on the Energy Treaty and Transit Protocol but giving up on other things - Kyoto Treaty signing comes into mind immediately, even though it wasn't part of <it>acquis</it>. Or Gazprom's giving up no-resale clause in its contracts with Western Union customers (after all, it's 51% state owned). So, there is a room for negotiations, but Russia expects for flexibility than the EU is ready to present, perhaps.

EU does invite the countries for membership, if informally. I was not talking in strictly legalistic terms, but we all understand no application would be forthcoming if non-zero probability of acceptance were not perceived. In the Russian case the probability is perceived as zero at this point, thus no application. Perhaps, that is as well - can you imagine the number of heart attacks among recent entrants' politicians if this happened?

I have read recently that Ukraine wanted to submit an application in early 2010. Perhaps this article is one of the shots in the game around the signal to be sent to Ukraine before this actually happens? After all, rejecting an application and even dragging the feet (as with Turkey) is politically inconvenient, given all the lofty talk on EU being open. Better not to have an application in the first place, at least for some leaders. At the same time, normal politicians would not like to look like losers submitting a dead on the arrival application, which makes the process an extremely interesting game to watch. Definitely neither Medvedev nor Putin would make such an error.

by Sargon on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 12:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the EU and Russia won't accept being dictated by the other the way that, say, the EU can dictate terms to Turkey, the former Yugoslav republics or the EEA countries. This means that the EU has to deal with Russia as an equal. Because the EU (rightly) doesn't expect to have Russia inside its sphere of influence it doesn't include Russia in its Neighbourhood Policy, but rather deals with Russia through Bilateral Trade Relations but it goes beyond, having a "strategic partnership".
The EU offers our neighbours a privileged relationship, building upon a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development). The ENP goes beyond existing relationships to offer a deeper political relationship and economic integration. The level of ambition of the relationship will depend on the extent to which these values are shared. The ENP remains distinct from the process of enlargement although it does not prejudge, for European neighbours, how their relationship with the EU may develop in future, in accordance with Treaty provisions.

The European Neighbourhood Policy applies to the EU's immediate neighbours by land or sea - Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. Although Russia is also a neighbour of the EU, our relations are instead developed through a Strategic Partnership covering four "common spaces".

(source: European Neighbourhood Policy at the Europa.eu portal - the original has lots of hyperlinks)

Personally, I would love to see the four freedoms (but crucially the freedom of movement for individuals) in a space encompassing both the EU and Russia. I'm just a little unclear as to what form this would take given that EEA (let alone EU) membership for Russia is probably not realistic.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 03:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have read recently that Ukraine wanted to submit an application in early 2010. Perhaps this article is one of the shots in the game around the signal to be sent to Ukraine before this actually happens? After all, rejecting an application and even dragging the feet (as with Turkey) is politically inconvenient, given all the lofty talk on EU being open.

Maybe the EU doesn't encourage an application from Ukraine because Russia wouldn't like it? Would the Eastern, Russophone half of Ukraine like an appication for EU membership any more than an aplication for NATO membership?

In the Russian case the probability is perceived as zero at this point, thus no application. Perhaps, that is as well - can you imagine the number of heart attacks among recent entrants' politicians if this happened?
How about the number of heart attacks in Russia? I mean, seriously, what fraction of the population would be in favour of EU membership, and what fraction of the Duma?

Even in Croatia, due to perceived domineering behaviour by the EU or its member states, a large fraction of the population is sceptical of EU entry, and this despite a broad consensus at the political level. This makes EU membership an 'elite' project for Croatia, and this is for a country of 4M people which is deeply in the EU's sphere of influence. I cannot imagine the Russian people or the Russian establishment entertaining the notion of EU accession.

This is entirely different from the question of whether Russia is "European", which nobody in their sane mind doubts (being facetious I'd point out that Russia is in UEFA and Eurovision - I mentioned the Council of Europe earlier) and which is realised daily in contacts among private citizens.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 03:57:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the EU doesn't encourage an application from Ukraine because Russia wouldn't like it?

Russian hostility to NATO membership is often mixed together with imagined hostility to the EU membership. There is the former but not the latter. The latest time the lack of hostility to EU accession was confirmed during Russian president's speech to Serbian National Assembly on Oct 20, 2009, where he said: "We do not have and cannot have any hypersensitivity about new members joining the European Union, including Eastern European states." The question should be closed.

In many discussions, Russian big businesses and their consultants quietly hope for some form of a Ukrainian EU entry, because that would mean backdoor entry for the Russian capital which owns a sizable chunk of Ukrainian one (actually, this is really cross-ownership, links go both ways).

Would the Eastern, Russophone half of Ukraine like an appication for EU membership any more than an aplication for NATO membership?

Overall, Ukraine likes EU much better than NATO: see this graph for EU entry and this one for NATO entry. Regional split on EU entry question is available only in Ukrainian, here. In the last figure, the question is "Should Ukraine enter the EU?", yellow bar is Yes and grey No, lines from top to bottom are for East, South, Center, and West.

Yes, of course the West is more enthusiastic and East less so, but the EU entry is often sold as a package with NATO. It also might mean in respondent's mind that a union with Russia and Belarus is excluded by the EU entry. This book (regretfully, only short excepts and only in Russian are available here) states that 50% of population is for "Eastern" foreign vector, 18% for "Western" and 19% for developing on its own, with "Eastern" dynamics rather stable over time. However, these orientations are not exclusive, as 31% of those wishing to see Ukraine in a union with Russia and Belarus won't mind EU entry, and full 43% of those for EU entry would like to see the union.

So, the conclusion there seems to be: if EU entry would be posed as something that does not exclude close cooperation with Russia, it would be rather easy to generate support of population on 50%+ level.    

I mean, seriously, what fraction of the population would be in favour of EU membership, and what fraction of the Duma?
The latest poll (Sep 2008) is here, again only in Russian. The very first bar plot is yes answers over time, which started from 59% in Mar 01, peaked at 73% in June 03, and fell down to 30% in Sep 08. The number opposed didn't move so dramatically, from 19 to 10 to 27% today. Almost half of the population is currently undecided. Between 2003 and today, there were many reasons for cooler attitudes, such as new members' entry which, in full accordance with Russian predictions, worsened the EU-Russia relations (EU was promising that nothing of the sort would happen... I guess Russia by now considers most West as having precious little credibility). And of course, Sep 08 was right after the Russia-Georgia war where EU as a whole did not exactly play an impartial role.
by Sargon on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 07:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In many discussions, Russian big businesses and their consultants quietly hope for some form of a Ukrainian EU entry, because that would mean backdoor entry

This was part of the thinking behind proposals to have the Kaliningrad District inside the EU (or at least Schengen) before the accession of Poland and the Baltics, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 08:29:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks a lot. I am especially shocked about
The very first bar plot is [Russians'] yes answers over time, which started from 59% in Mar 01, peaked at 73% in June 03, and fell down to 30% in Sep 08. The number opposed didn't move so dramatically, from 19 to 10 to 27% today.
Something has gone terribly wrong in EU-Russia relations for the position on EU membership to have collapsed from 73%-10% for to 30%-29% for in the span of 5 years. We will pay dearly for this strategic mistake... Heads in the EU foreign policy establishment should roll for this. I'm not holding my breath.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 04:35:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rejecting an application and even dragging the feet (as with Turkey) is politically inconvenient

As long as De Gaulle was President of France, the EU rejected UK applications for membership.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 04:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France under De Gaulle was even considered to be mildly autocratic... and he was WWII hero, remember? Current European leaders are made of completely different materials.
by Sargon on Sun Nov 15th, 2009 at 07:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I don't believe Russia will be next, and I don't think it should be.

And bringing in Ukraine into the EU makes no sense, right now.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 04:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it make sense to start acession negotiations with Ukraine? If Ukraine applied for membership and negotiations were opened, Ukraine would commit to applying the acquis and responding to EU demands over a number of years until all needed reforms are carried out. Why wouldn't that make sense, other than presumably Ukrainians can't agree among themselves to apply for EU membership?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 11:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, their major point IS correct: to a significant degree it was an anchoring of expectations that came with an implicit promise of EU membership that forced some of the more unsavory business and political practices in the new member states to disappear (in the Czech Republic they still find bodies rolled into concrete, but that's clearly the way business disputes were solved back in 90es, not now).

The problem is that the signal was supposed to come in much earlier, when totally ignoring Russian issue was possible. Now it might be too late for that beneficial effect.

by Sargon on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 02:50:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The FAZ Atlanticists have again outdone everyone else in surrealism.

I'm waiting anxiously for them to explain how Ukraine won't become a Bulgaria problem on crack. Not.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 14th, 2009 at 04:11:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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