Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 143

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, the European Union (EU)’s External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek and Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen of Finland–currently the EU’s presiding country—chaired the Ukraine-EU third annual summit on July 23 in Kyiv. Although Kuchma, as host of the meeting, toned down the scathing criticism he has recently leveled at the EU (see the Monitor, June 29; The Fortnight in Review, July 2), the Kyiv summit illustrated the precarious state of communications between the two sides and the need for a coherent policy in Brussels toward Ukraine.

–EU Strategy. According to Lipponen’s concluding announcement, the EU hopes to draft, by the end of 1999, a blueprint of its strategy toward Ukraine–a promise which indirectly testifies to the absence of such a strategy in the eighth year of Ukraine’s independence. That document should form the EU’s contribution to a joint EU-Ukraine document on mutual relations, to be adopted at next year’s EU-Ukraine summit. Meanwhile the EU-Ukraine Joint Commission on Cooperation–an interministerial-level body–will begin discussions on trade and investment issues of mutual concern. Kyiv’s top priority is to remove EU restrictions on imports from Ukraine, particularly on steel and other metallurgical products. The EU, for its part, is mainly concerned with improving the investment climate in Ukraine and, more broadly, spurring market reforms.

–Ukrainian Goals. Apart from improved access to EU markets, Ukraine aspires to conclude an association agreement with the EU in the near term and to reach consensus on steps to prepare Ukraine for accession negotiations in the future. The existing experience does not suggest that Ukraine ranks among the EU’s priorities: It took the EU and its individual member countries four years to ratify the 1994 EU-Ukraine agreement on partnership and cooperation–the lowest level of contractual relations. That agreement envisions facilities for Ukrainian exports to the EU area and the EU will now monitor progress on economic reforms in Ukraine to determine whether the country qualifies for such facilities. Reform legislation is, however, scarcely to be expected during this presidential election year in Ukraine.

–Credit. The EU leaders agreed to provide a Euro-denominated, balance-of-payment-support credit of “up to” US$143 million to Ukraine. The US$55 million first installment is due immediately.

–Chornobyl Closure. Kuchma appealed to his Western interlocutors to “behave like gentlemen” in living up to the terms of the 1995 Memorandum between the Group of Seven, the EU and Ukraine regarding the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Under that document, Ukraine had pledged to close down Chornobyl by the year 2000 while the Western partners pledged to finance the costs of the operations, including construction of two compensatory nuclear power groups at the Rivne and Khmelnitskaya plants. The assistance, however, has not been forthcoming. The EU leaders promised to consider the issue again in the autumn of this year, but the outlook is not promising–especially after the West German government, pressed by the minority Green party, pulled out of the deal. Russia has recently offered to consider stepping into the vacuum left by the G-7 and EU (UNIAN, DINAU, AP, Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), July 23-26; see the Monitor, July 14, 23).