A fruitful candidacy
European voice - December 15th 2005
One year after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is now promised market economy status, visa facilitation and support for WTO membership.
Unfortunately economic reform is now stalling ahead of the March 2006 elections and current predictions are for an unstable outcome. The previous government of Yulia Tymoshenko was too focused on retaining voter popularity and matching the spending promises by ex-PM Viktor Yanukovich in 2004. This measure intended to make corruption a choice rather than a necessity and for instance cleaned up the corrupt traffic police by raising their salaries. Regrettably foreign direct investment has also dried up.
Nevertheless, the picture in Ukraine is positive with progress in the fight against corruption and the enduring legacy of the birth of a civil society with more democratic accountability and a free media is intact. The Orange Revolution was essentially one of protest at the post-Soviet system of corruption and crony capitalism without any coherent political programme of its own, with the disparate leaders pulling in different directions and appointed not on merit but on the basis of how much they made the revolution happen.
If the EU fails to extend to Ukraine potential long-term EU membership before the elections there is a danger that Ukraine will revert to its multivector foreign policy with rising Russian influence and a reversion to authoritarianism and lack of transparency.
The EU should accept an association agreement which does not in itself imply eventual EU membership but would be perceived as an upgrade by Ukraine and might involve a free trade area or even a customs union. Why not give Ukraine
the label given to the Western Balkans states, of "potential EU candidate"?
Charles Tannock MEP