Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ukraine: an elephant on the European doorstep

Today I’ve read a very interesting article in the Euobserver called “The elephant on the European doorstep”. The author, Peter Sain ley Berry, editor of EuropaWorld, is analyzing the recent British Queen’s visit to Turkey and reflecting on prospects of Turkish future membership in the European Union.
The conclusion is the following: Ukraine is now in an anomalous position in its euro-inspirations, the author thinks. Actually, Ukraine is more European than Turkey, but the Eurodoor is presently shut for Kyiv.During her visit to Ankara, 82-year-old Queen Elizabeth II stressed Britain's support for the mainly Muslim country's EU membership prospects, describing Turkey as a “confident and dynamic democracy”. She said also that the process of the integration of Turkey to the EU should be speeded up. Ukrainian leaders have never heard such pleasant words from British leaders.
Peter Sain ley Berry states in his article: “
In fact, when it comes to European credentials the Ukraine has rather better claims than Turkey. Its capital, Kiev, is closer to Brussels, for instance, than Athens. Moreover, as anyone reading Heinrich Boell's - great anti-war novel ‘Der Zug war Punktlich,' can appreciate, Germany, Poland and the Ukraine are but stations on a journey into Europe's deep hinterland. The railway line is no doubt still there. It is true to say that with its 55 million people the Ukraine is therefore the elephant on our European doorstep. Still, the policy is to resist giving any hint of promise of future membership. True, the country has much to reform before it could become a credible candidate. Nevertheless, it has as much right to lay claim to its place in the European firmament as anyone else. The banging on the door will become louder and more insistent. There will be other bangings, too; Georgia is already demanding to be heard. Belarus, Moldova, the other Caucasian nations may well follow suit. No one can believe the Union can remain the same should these accessions take place. Again, they are not necessarily to be resisted. It may be in our interest that we should go ahead. But we should not sleepwalk toward a decision, finding out too late that we have no room left for manoeuvre”.
“The Western Balkans - seven countries with a population of approximately 27 million - have been offered a European future, subject only to satisfying the normal criteria. This process will take time but few doubt the result. We are on course therefore for an EU of 34”,
- the author of the article says. - This will make the government of the EU more complex. If there are 15 possible bilateral relationships in a community of six, there are 351 in a community of 27. Adding a further seven states increases the complexity by a whopping 210. Apart from this complexity there will be other consequences, including for financing, for decision-making, for the distribution of MEPs and Commissioners. None of this seems to be being discussed”.
I do not see how we can continue to espouse Turkey's candidacy and not that of the Ukraine. But this has consequences. If we are to have a grand Europe, a Europe of 42 states and 700 millions of people, it is not too early to start debating the prospect now,” – makes resume the European journalist.

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