Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Europe's Responsibility Toward Ukraine

Wall Street Journal - January 4th 2005

Your Dec. 28 editorial "The Miracle on Independence Square" was excellent.

Given the expectations now raised in Ukraine, the EU must engage Kiev in some kind of long-term aspiration toward eventual EU membership. Otherwise it will be difficult for President Viktor Yushchenko to drive through the much-needed political and economic reforms and win the parliamentary elections of 2006. Unless Ukraine is granted an upgrade in status, President Yushchenko may be forced to look east again to Moscow and the Yalta Treaty and the Single Economic Space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. If he were obliged to enter into free-trade agreements or even customs unions with countries with lamentable human-rights records, such as Belarus, Ukraine's door to EU integration would be irreversibly shut. Regrettably, in recent years, both the EU and NATO have been insufficiently encouraging to Ukraine's aspirations. This led Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin to conclude that there would be little robust Western defense of Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty if they tried to bring Ukraine back under Russian control by rigging the election if necessary.

It cannot be morally sustainable to open negotiations with Turkey and down the road with Balkan countries and deny Ukraine the same privilege. Within the EPP-ED center-right group of the European Parliament, I have recently floated the idea of granting Ukraine a Balkan-type "Stability and Association Agreement." With this status comes also the label "potential candidate" and my fellow lawmakers have agreed to look carefully at this issue in the new year.

One major policy change the new government of Ukraine could make and which would also demonstrate Kiev's independence from Russia, is to help solving the Transdniester problem. This breakaway territory of Moldova is a haven for criminal activity including money laundering and arms smuggling and poses a serious security problem for the EU post 2007 when our borders will extend to Moldova. The Ukrainian-speaking minorities there have been subject to intense russification. Mr. Yushchenko could thus both please the EU and his western Ukrainian-speaking strongholds by blocking trade to this area and pushing Transdniester toward negotiating a peaceful reunification with the rest of desperately poor Moldova.

Charles Tannock
Vice President of European Parliament's Ukraine Delegation
Co-Chairman EP Ukrainian Presidential Election 2004 Observer Mission