Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Ukraine's right to be part of a larger EU.

Letter to the Financial Times - September 2nd 2002

Sir

Stefan Wagstyl's article "Ukraine looks west" (August 21) acknowledges the strategic role this country of 50m highly educated Europeans plays. Much remains to be done, particularly in carrying out structural reforms to the economy and exposing corruption and cronyism, but insufficient recognition is given to Ukrainian efforts to build a democratic society from scratch.

This is a newly independent country that has never existed before in its current boundaries and has an excellent record in accommodating its national minorities. Mr Wagstyl made no mention of its military co-operation in the Balkans and in the US's global war on terrorism, where it is improving security at its nuclear plants and investigating allegations of military technology sales to Iraq. It has cracked down on intellectual piracy of counterfeit CDs and tapes. The new prosecutor-general has taken on high-level corruption cases and the investigating commission has exposed organisational failures that led to the air show disaster in Lviv. Recently the law was changed to criminalise the sex-slave trade. Nevertheless, at the July 2002 European Union- Ukraine summit, no recognition was made of its long-term aspirations to accede to the EU. Jack Straw, the UK foreign secretary, has proposed a "neighbouring country policy" bracketing Ukraine, absurdly, with the almost failed state of Moldova and the virtual dictatorship of Belarus. The EU is prepared to grant nothing more than a partnership and co-operation agreement, such as it applies to countries like Kazakhstan.

I disagree that the rapprochement between the west and Russia will improve Ukraine's chances of European integration, as the EU is tempted to sacrifice Ukraine's interests to appease Russia, which is placing enormous pressure on Ukraine to join its own EuroAsian Economic Community. Mr Wagstyl also states that President Leonid Kuchma will have to stand down in 2004, whereas it is believed he is preparing a legal challenge to enable a third term in office on the basis that his first term (1994-98) predates the 1996 Constitution.

If Turkey is allowed to be an EU candidate with all the controversy it will pose, surely Ukraine also deserves a place in the post-2004 enlargement architecture.

Dr. Charles Tannock MEP (Con)
London SW5