Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 125

On June 27 in Warsaw, addressing a high-level forum on “Central and Eastern Europe on the Road to the European Union,” Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk expressed disappointment with the attitude of the European Union (EU) and its individual member countries toward Ukraine. Describing that attitude on the whole as “unreceptive” and “conceptually flawed,” Kuchma and Tarasyuk cited such examples as:

–Nonfulfillment of the EU’s and the Group of Seven’s joint pledge (under the 1995 Ottawa Memorandum) to finance, in the general interest, the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000 and the completion of compensatory generating capacities. The overall costs, in the range of US$3 billion, are beyond Ukraine’s means.

–Reluctance to conclude an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine. The associate status, already enjoyed by a number of Central-East European countries, would enable Ukraine to overcome some of the restrictions on exports to EU markets.

–“Pressure” on Ukraine at the Council of Europe (CE), particularly over the issue of the death penalty which has brought Ukraine on the verge of being suspended from the CE.

–Failure to consider Ukraine for a partial moratorium on her external debts, even as the EU and Group of Seven are discussing that possibility with Russia.

Kuchma described the EU’s policy toward Ukraine as one marked by “ambiguity and drift…. Western European assessments of Ukraine’s crucial place and role in Europe have not translated into policy.” The outspokenly pro-Western Tarasyuk cautioned that the EU’s neglect of Ukraine could leave the country on the eastern side of “a new dividing line on the continent, with disastrous consequences.” Tarasyuk appealed to the assembled Central and West European leaders to follow the example of Poland (see item above) in “supporting Ukraine’s European orientation.” (UNIAN, DINAU, June 27, 28).

The EU represents the weaker of the two pillars of Ukraine’s relations with the West. The United States shows a relatively better understanding of Ukraine’s pivotal position in Europe. The military on both sides of the Atlantic have been consistently ahead of the civilian authorities on either side in terms of forging partnership links with Ukraine.–VS