Brussels is imposing levels of national reform approaching the unreasonable on Ukraine. As a former Soviet nation, its communist heritage is a lasting reality which cannot be lightly tossed off at a moment’s notice. The EU should bear this in mind before expecting overnight metamorphosis from President Yanukovych’s government, and consider that further democratisation will be made possible by integration in the institution rather than being left outside to stagnate.
Besides, calls for angelic democracy coming from the European Union come across as a little rich. Who are Member States to talk, when many of them are considerably entangled in anti-democratic undercurrents themselves ?
The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic was forced to step down after being shamed in scandal and corruption, while Croatia is set to become a new member of the European club on July 1 of this year, yet its ex-Prime Minister is facing a possible ten-year prison sentence.
Equally, Romania and Bulgaria, originally viewed with suspicion, have been part of the European Union for almost ten years now, and have, it must be said, made progress which would have been unimaginable without the helping hand of the Brussels machine.
With this in mind, integrating Ukraine should not be a case of taking the opportunity to look down from higher moral ground (which anyway is often hardly even there to stand on), but rather of reasonably reflecting on how the nation can begin to take part in and benefit the European society.
Ukraine has been making efforts to develop its European feasibility, with the particular goal of signing an association agreement with the institution, which would mark better relations and increased trading between the two parties. Judging by the talks in the Bratislava-held Central and Eastern European leaders summit, carried out on 12-13 June, Ukraine may well get the opportunity to sign the accord this November. The Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius this year is therefore the deadline for European demands on Ukraine’s democracy.
Already, President Yanukvych’s systematic reforming of the country’s parliament has put the country into a different diplomatic category. Ukraine offers an area where freedom of expression is possible : far from being oppressed, the opposition party is allowed to exist on various television channels and Internet sources. Ukraine has also rejected offers to join the Customs Union, a clear sign of its serious intentions to improve ties in Brussels.
Ultimately, Ukraine is not superman. It cannot nip into the closet and come out sparkling clean. It should be viewed within its context, as indeed other states are, and as such can be seen as a promising prospect.