Will Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia find themselves like Turkey, forever waiting to join EU?

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2014/07/11 • Featured, Politics

Many in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia see the association agreements they have now signed with the European Union as a step toward eventual EU membership, but an association agreement does not necessarily lead to that, as Turkey which signed one in 1960 and other former European colonies which have, can attest.

And that in turn means, Ruslan Gorevoy argues in an essay on Versia.ru that the three countries may have managed to distance themselves from Russia with all the costs that may entail without really joining Europe with all the benefits their governments and people hope for.

Even more important, although the “Versiya” commentator doesn’t say so, is that this intermediate and undefined situation will allow Moscow enormous room for maneuver in these three capitals, especially if Western leaders go out of their way to say that they have no plans for the further integration of these countries into the EU, let alone NATO.

The association agreements the three former Soviet republics have signed, Gorevoy points out, run for ten years, “and before the end of that time, even associate membership in the EU for those countries which have signed the document is impossible.” Moreover, the reality for them is “even darker.”

After more than a half-century has passed since it signed an association agreement with Brussels, Turkey has not become “closer” to membership. It has, like other associates, gained access to certain markets and to certain financial and technical assistance. But that is all the pluses, the “Versiya” commentator says.

On the minus side, at least from the point of view of the citizens of associate countries, they have lost by signing part of their sovereignty because they have taken upon themselves the obligation to follow the dictates of Brussels concerning political, economic, trade and judicial reforms.

The majority of the 17 countries which have association agreements with the EU are former colonies of European states or portions of the former Yugoslavia. Besides those Yugoslavian successor states, “there was not a single European country in the list of signatory countries until recently.”

Few if any of those countries is going to be invited to become a full member of the EU, and Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are unlikely to be. But they and their populations are going to be hit by the economic and political consequences of association, and that may spell trouble for those who signed on.

That is because, the commentator continues, “the people will give politicians one and the same question: why have we begun to live worse? And sooner or later,” the latter will have to answer with more than just slogans like “Europe is our choice!” or “We are Europeans!” And that situation may emerge “very quickly.”

Ukraine, for example, is going to cut its agricultural subsidies and a large share of its agricultural exports as a result. The same thing will hit Moldovan and Georgian wine producers. But they will all be hit hard if as seems likely Moscow restricts the number of gastarbeiters from these countries working and earning in the Russian Federation. Those who return home won’t be going to Europe.

Moreover, Ukraine may face a special problem with gas prices. Under EU rules, a country cannot sell gas abroad for more than it sells it at home. That means, at least potentially, that Kyiv will have to raise prices for Ukrainian consumers, something that is unlikely to make them happy.

And officials in all three capitals are likely to be less than pleased that many of their policies will now be reviewed by the EU Council of Association, “which consists of 28 representatives of the EU countries and one each from Kyiv, Chisinau and Tbilisi.” Especially irksome, Gorevoy says, is likely to be the fact that the council’s decisions can’t be appealed.

But the “Versiya” commentator concludes that it is really too early to talk about this. For the new association agreements to go into effect, “all member countries of the EU and the European Parliament must ratify them.” As of now, only one EU member has done so – Romania.

Source: Window on Eurasia

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  • sandy miller

    Enough negative talk. Ukraine should not depend upon the EU. They need to clean up government. Open the country to good old capitalism and start doing business. Fuck the EU and Russia. Do your own thing Ukraine. Start Working hard talk your citizens into making Ukraine beautiful and efficient and show its warmth. Ukraine is a beautiful place. They need to bring out their best and they will come. EU has done nothing but screw Ukraine. Tell the Oligarch no more feaudalsim. help your country you have enough wealth no help your country.this website is impossibelk to type on fix it now

    • Cristian Muñoz

      Ukraine should atract American, Japanese or Korean investments to bring development and modernization to Ukrainian industry. .

  • Warren Eckels

    The prospect of entering the EU offers Ukrainians a carrot and a stick to use on their government and a crutch for a government that will need to pass reforms whose popularity falls once enacted.

    The carrot and stick are obvious, so the crutch will be demonstrated.

    New rules, no matter how helpful and needed, bring inconvenience and dislocation, as can be illustrated by what would happen if traffic cops stopped taking bribes. Drivers who violate the law would no longer be able to slip some UAH 20s and 50s to the officer; they would get a ticket that they could contest in court or pay a fine that ends up more expensive than the bribe. Meanwhile, cops earning 2000 UAH/month will leave the job or find alternate, nefarious sources of income; the country would need to choose between hiring folks who can’t be trusted with a mop and paying more money. Higher salaries for cops mean higher taxes, fewer cops or the loss of other services, all of which people hate. In this case, it’s best that the EUrocrats in Brussels take the blame.

  • Wiiking

    Turkey is in my opinion more fitted to be in some asian trade union as just a small part of it stretches into europe. They are also illegally occupying northern cyprus witch will never be accepted if they dream of becomming a member of EU. As a Norwegian I cant really see the need of becomming an EU member as long as you can have the same trade agreements anyway. It is some benefits, but also some drawbacks. We have voted twice..both times against EU membership.

  • Maria Łaś

    No, they will not. Because we are their fifth column :)

  • Cristian Muñoz

    The biggest problem in the EU is the pro-Russian politicians in Germany, France and Italy. Nations like Sweden, Poland, Finland, Norway, Baltic States and Ukraine have denounced the lack of support from Germany, Italy and France regarding North and East Europe security related to Russian racist fascist expansionism. Because of this, and for a long time, I have thought that Scandinavian nations, Baltic states, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria should establish a new security structure separated from NATO in the North and East Europe, and with strong military links with USA, Canada and UK. Just few people understand that EU destiny is being led by GERMANY. If you look carefully at the current situation in Ukraine, it’s Merkel and Putin who have been discussing about the situation, but excluding Poroshenko, and ignoring the opinion of Baltic states and Poland. Be careful with Berlin and Moscow hidden intentions. Never forget German-Soviet Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact that doomed Eastern European nations to be divided between Berlin and Moscow. BE CAREFUL!!.

    • Maria Łaś

      You are absolutely right. It’s time we took our fate in our own hands.