Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bad association. EU to sign Association Agreement not only with Ukraine, but also with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and even Belarus

On 3 December the European Commission is going to present its draft communiqué on the Eastern Partnership (EP) policy. The EC is to propose pulling the six post-Soviet neighbours – Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Belarus – closer to the West, to recognize their “European aspirations” and to create a new “European Economic Area”. This decision ruined the Ukrainian dream to establish “special relationship” with the European Union.
Previously, a mutual consent to call a new enhanced document to be signed by Ukraine and the EU “the Association Agreement” was interpreted in Kiev as a great achievement of Ukrainian diplomacy.

Our top officials are still talking about the Association as an essential step on the way to membership in the European Union. Most of them, including President, Prime minister and Foreign Affairs Minister use even a word combination “Associative membership in the EU” to emphasize the importance of the document. Now they should feel at least uncomfortable for saying that: the Eurocomission proposes to sign Association Agreements not only with its close and democratic neighbour Ukraine, but also with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, and Belarus with its semi-dictator Lukashenko.

So, instead of “special relationship” Ukraine is to receive a marginal status of “Eastern partner” of the European Union. “The conclusion of Association Agreements will be without prejudice to the partners' European aspirations”, the EU is declaring. Even the negotiations on Free Trade Area or free visa regime will be conducted in frames of the Eastern Partnership policy.

The EUObserver’s article with quotations of draft Commission communication on the EP may be read here.

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