«Україна-ЄС: фінальне коло» - стаття Представника України при ЄС К.Єлісєєва для «ЄврАктів»
As the 'long marathon' to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is reaching its end, the only issue remaining is that of offering Ukraine a clear perspective for membership of the Union, says ambassador Kostyantyn Yelisieiev.
Kostyantyn Yelisieiev is a career diplomat and Ukraine's ambassador to the European Union.
"The numerically catchy date of 11/11/11 will be remembered in the history of Ukraine-EU relations as the day when the sides 'sealed the deal'. After nearly five years and 21 rounds of rather exhaustive meetings, the chief negotiators finally shook hands on the text of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
With only one issue left for high political consideration (the EU perspective for Ukraine), Kyiv and Brussels have stopped one step away from concluding this seminal document.
The final step is the hardest. Any marathon runner can tell you about it. In this particular case it is especially hard – since it might be a step towards a new geopolitical constellation in Europe's post-Soviet east.
It's also obvious that given the current crisis in the eurozone and growing concerns among EU citizens over the future of the common European project, the decision to give or not to give Ukraine the EU perspective will demand a great deal of political will.
Yet it would be a step in the right direction. It would be a sign of faith amid faithless times. It would be a sign of presence where the EU must be present – in the country whose youth pins down all its hopes with the United Europe. It would be a sign of vision and a steady hand towards a country that matters to Europe and can become Europe's new source of strength.
In our domestic discussions we Ukrainians often reminded ourselves: European integration is not about who you side with. It's about who you really are. This simple realisation applies for the EU too. Is the Union still the torch-bearer of hopes in Europe or has it settled for being a closed club of the 'bold and beautiful'? The decision on Ukraine will answer that question.
Ukraine is Europe. And if Europe doesn't belong with Europe, then there must be something wrong with the logic of the whole unification project.
There is no logic in denying Ukraine a future in the EU. It won't save Brussels any money or political advances, simply because Ukraine doesn't await much of those. It approaches this rather symbolic doorstep with a due level of sobriety. It understands that the times are tough, that freeloading is out and self-sustainability is in. It is ready to carry the burden. All that the country needs is the sense of purpose that would unite and energise Ukraine's best, strongest and ablest.
Yes, the voices could be heard that being European in the full sense requires much more than being a part of geographical and historical Europe. We in Ukraine fully share this vision. Europe is united by common values which are in the core of the European integration project.
In this regard, recent internal developments in Ukraine, including criminal cases against members of former governments, constitutional and electoral reforms, issues of business climate, have become a real stress-test for the state of play of European values in Ukraine. It has revealed all the drawbacks at every layer of the system of power in Ukraine and made us understand where Ukraine stands in its quest for European Union membership.
Therefore, the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement should be considered as a roadmap to gradually overcome these drawbacks and to use this instrument to ultimately consolidate European values in Ukraine, achieving the level of democracy equal to the highest EU standards.
Within last couple of years Ukraine underwent what can be seen as EU integration in miniature – the preparation for the Euro 2012 football championship. Over a historically miniscule period of time modern stadiums have been built, hotels sprouted and airports mushroomed. None of that was present in 2007 when the decision to entrust Ukraine with this milestone event was taken. It took UEFA a great deal of faith in Ukraine's organisational ability and passion for football. And it already paid off plentifully, by changing Ukraine's face and opening European football new horizons.
I do hope that the European Union is capable to come up with the same level of faith and strategic vision."