Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU must accept Ukraine

Financial Times - November 16th 2004

Sir

Anders Aslund ("Ukraine's voters don't need Moscow's advice", November 12) is essentially correct in his analysis of the current political situation in Ukraine.

However, he misses one essential point, which I have repeatedly raised in the European parliament but which is totally ignored by the other European Union institutions: namely, that unless the EU accepts Ukraine can engage in some kind of long-term aspiration towards eventual EU membership it is inevitable that whoever wins the presidential election on November 21 has only one economic option - to look east to Moscow.

Ukraine will then be obliged to implement fully the Yalta Treaty and the Single Economic Space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and possibly even Uzbekistan. Once it enters into close free-trade agreements with countries such as Belarus and Uzbekistan with lamentable human rights records, and in particular if these evolve into a customs union, its door to EU integration will be irreversibly shut.

With the possible exception of Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, no other EU leader is prepared to make encouraging Euro-Atlantic integration noises to Ukraine. President Leonid Kuchma, at the last EU-Ukraine summit, was so humiliated by Romano Prodi, president of the EU Commission, when he stated that irrespective of how European Ukrainians might feel, so might New Zealanders feel the same, that Mr Kuchma reversed his previously long-held policy of Ukrainian Nato and EU integration.

Hans-Gert Poettering, leader of the EPP-ED in the European parliament, has written to Viktor Yushchenko, the front-running candidate, assuring him that his political group will keep the door open for Ukraine's EU membership. It cannot be morally sustainable to open negotiations with Turkey and be down the road with western Balkan countries and deny such a right to Ukraine.

The run-off, as well as being free, fair and transparent, must allow the option of long-term EU accession to be part of the Ukrainian people's choice.

Charles Tannock
Vice-President, European Parliament Ukraine Delegation
Ukrainian Presidential Election Observer