DIF: U.S., EU send signals to Ukraine: red line is getting closer
On September 27 representatives of the European Commission stated that the EU-Ukraine Summit, which is traditionally held every year, will most likely be postponed to next year. Such disappointing news for the Ukrainian government was the second powerful signal that it received from the EU over the past week. As a reminder, on September 22 the U.S. Senate approved the resolution demanding the release of ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko from jail and urged the U.S. State Department to impose visa sanctions against individuals complicit in this criminal case.
How can the signals sent out to Ukraine by the U.S. and the EU be interpreted?
What impact will they have on Ukraine’s position on the international arena?
Despite the fact that the negative attitude of U.S. politicians to the criminal persecution and imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko was not a secret to anybody, the adoption of the resolution by the U.S. Senate came as quite the surprise for both the Ukrainian leadership and political analysts.
The majority of them assumed that the resolution would be adopted, but only after the elections in Ukraine were held demonstrating the extent to which members of Ukraine’s ruling leadership is prepared to ignore the notion of democratic values and norms for the sake of holding onto power.
Nevertheless, the voting by U.S. senators demonstrated that they decided to jump the gun. Moreover, given the recommendatory nature of the adopted resolution, it is too early to speak about banning the entry of Ukrainian high-ranking officials into the U.S.
The resolution can be more correctly interpreted as a warning to the Ukrainian government on the eve of the parliamentary elections that if they are not democratic such visa sanctions are absolutely realistic.
Notable is that the reaction of the Ukrainian side to the resolution of the U.S. Senate was once again unproductive. Aside from the typical observations that the document is not subject to mandatory execution and seemingly does not reflect the opinions of all members of the U.S. Senate, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the gumption to accuse U.S. senators of not complying with procedural norms.
Such a bold statement by Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry was understandably quite surprising, not only because the resolution of the U.S. Senate was passed according to the legislative procedure, but also taking into account the constant violations of procedures that members of the ruling Party of Regions allow during the passing of decisions in the Verkhovna Rada.
It is also difficult to justify the latest trend of the Ukrainian leadership to lecture other countries on how to act in spheres which they achieved more progress than Ukraine did. Accordingly, such accusations reciprocally give grounds to say that the Ukrainian leadership is not only ignoring the rational observations of its foreign colleagues, but also wants to deliberately ruin relations with the West.
This, in turn, raises suspicions that by its actions the ruling power in Ukraine supports the interests of Russia, which only stands to gain from the worsening of Ukraine’s relations with its western neighbors.
A clear signal
The decision of representatives of the European Commission to postpone the EU-Ukraine summit to next year can be viewed from a similar perspective. On the one hand, the fact that this event was cancelled from this year’s schedule dealt another serious blow to Ukraine’s image on the international arena seeing as representatives of the EU and Ukraine traditionally met every year.
At the same time, although Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko gave a positive assessment of the chances of holding the summit at the recent international forum in Yalta, political analysts began talking of the possibility of such a course of events quite some time ago.
However, with the upcoming parliamentary elections it has become more obvious that the EU will postpone the summit to a later date. The main reason for this is clear: European officials tried to send out yet another signal to the Ukrainian government regarding the importance of the way in which the elections should be held.
Accordingly, the timing and format of holding the summit will be determined after the elections are over taking into account their results. In other words, based on their decision representatives of the EU once again stressed that the degree to which the parliamentary elections correspond to democratic standards will determine the prospects of its further cooperation with Ukraine.
At the same time, international observers, particularly those representing the Organization of Security and Cooperation of Europe and the European Network of Election Monitoring Organization, have already stated that the expectations of the parliamentary elections are grim.
They paid special attention to their unique way of forming the team of electoral commissions that has already truncated it to the benefit of members of the ruling party, as well as the widespread application of administrative resources and bribing voters.
Hopes that the Ukrainian government will make a serious effort to correct such a lack of democracy in the electoral process are in vain. Moreover, an increase in the scale of electoral violations on the part of the ruling power is much more probable. In this case, the parliamentary elections in Ukraine on October 28 will be a pretense for the U.S. and the EU to completely freeze relations with the Ukrainian leadership and even impose specific sanctions on Ukraine.
Finally, with time running out prior to the elections in late October there are less hopes that the Ukrainian leadership will change its election strategy for the sake of smoothing relations with the U.S. and the EU.
As such, the adoption of the resolution by the U.S. Senate calling for introduction of visa sanctions against Ukrainian government officials complicit in the Yulia Tymoshenko case and the decision of the EU to postpone the holding of the summit with Ukraine to next year sent out the next powerful signal to the Ukrainian leadership on the eve of the parliamentary elections.
This means essentially that the renewal of normal relations between Ukraine and countries in the western world will only be possible if the parliamentary elections in Ukraine are held in compliance with democratic standards. Furthermore, given the upcoming election campaign and the critical observations made by international observers, hoping that the Ukrainian government adequately receives such signals is a tall task.
At the same time, should the current trends continue the result will be not only in the total isolation of Ukraine from the international community, but also the imposing of sanctions against Ukrainian government officials.
Focus jn Ukraine