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EU: Poroshenko’s mistake may cost Ukraine its European future

EU: Poroshenko’s mistake may cost Ukraine its European future
Article by: Viktor Chernyshuk
Translated by: Christine Chraibi

The hottest topic among EU deputies at present touches upon the implications of the Ukrainian president’s experiment on granting quasi-autonomous status to part of the Donbas.

Many political scientists see this as an error on the part of Ukraine’s leader. Moreover, they are convinced that the Kremlin will immediately take advantage of this situation. European experts believe that the decentralization of “disobedient” regions specified by Poroshenko is nothing more than a tool that Russia will use to influence future events in Ukraine. These regions, which will be semi-autonomous for three years, will be entirely controlled by the Kremlin. Not Kyiv. Experts believe that Poroshenko should have said that these parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts are occupied territories, like Crimea, and that the Russian Federation should bear all responsibility for them.

Political analysts state that all anti-Ukrainian forces that have had a negative influence on the country in the last twenty years actually have strong roots in Donetsk. Therefore, it would have been wiser to perform a surgical act on this tumour. The first logical step would be to admit the patient into the Russian surgical ward so that Russia would have to deal with local gangs, smuggling, terrorists and separatists.

Experts agree that someone must pay for this occupation, but why should this financing be borne by Ukrainians and not Russians?

Poroshenko has created a situation that could bind Ukraine’s hands and feet, and erect an obstacle to Ukraine’s road to the EU, not to mention NATO. Issues related to border control will always be on the agenda. So, when Kyiv authorities are ready to apply for EU membership, the EU’s first question will relate to frozen conflicts and border control. Germany and France will be the first to ask these questions. They will not allow Ukraine to enter the EU if Ukraine fails to solve its internal problems. In the meantime, the key to the Donbas will still be in the hands of the Kremlin.

Experts also advise Ukrainian authorities to be more realistic about making loud statements pointing to Ukraine’s imminent integration into the EU. The truth is that at this point Ukraine has only just started integrating into the internal market of the European Union, but not into the EU itself. There is a significant difference here… and this truth must be stated openly so that Ukrainians may correctly understand the actual situation and the tremendous amount of work that still needs to be done.

Only in Kyiv do we hear about plans for joining the EU. This issue has not been raised in EU regulations or procedures…. not for 2020, not for 2025, not for 2030. Ukrainian diplomats have not even touched upon such negotiations. Moreover, Ukraine does not have a strong position in any of the EU countries for one simple and banal reason – there is no one who can speak about Ukraine’s plans with an authoritative voice. Ukraine has no strong and charismatic ambassadors in the EU countries (there are even no representatives of Ukraine in several important countries!), and Ukraine’s voice is not heard due to the complete absence of a professional information policy. Experts advise the President to prepare and analyze his visit to the NATO summit in the United States, and increase the flow of information and influence to Berlin, Warsaw, Vilnius, Stockholm, Paris, London, Vienna, Brussels and Rome. In fact, discussions between these capitals and Kyiv will decide the future of Ukraine. It is namely these capitals that represent important groups of countries within the EU. Poroshenko’s mission is precisely to encourage such discussions and transform them into real negotiations for membership.

However, European analysts all agree that the Ukrainian government should focus on one task – to prevent Moscow from spreading its influence in Ukraine via the occupied regions of the Donbas. The threat is very real…

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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