17 November 2013, 16:37

Lack of closeness between Ukraine and EU may lead to new disturbances - Ukrainian opposition

Lack of closeness between Ukraine and EU may lead to new disturbances - Ukrainian opposition

The tension around the prospects for the further closeness between Ukraine and the European Union is increasingly growing. New disturbances may break out, should Ukraine's authorities give up the idea of the European vector of development. Meanwhile, the majority of experts are sure that the association agreement with Ukraine will not be signed at the summit in Vilnius. However, this does not mean that instead Ukraine will choose closeness with the Customs Union.

"Yanukovych and the Party of Regions are stealing our future. The only way to prevent such a turn of events is to ask people to take to the streets," the former Ukrainian interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko wrote on his page in Facebook. The Ukrainian politician said that the rally of protest was set for November 24th and that he had discussed all the details with the opposition leaders - Arseni Yatsenyuk, Vitali Klitschko and Oleg Tyagnibok. The failed attempt to adopt a law that would enable Yulia Tymoshenko to go for medical treatment to Germany has served as a reason for such statements. Brussels said that Tymoshenko's release was one of the terms for signing the association membership agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The signing of this agreement is due to take place at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius at the end of this month. However, practically nobody believes today that the signing procedure will really occur there. Commenting on the situation, Director of the Centre for Complex European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics Timofei Bordachev says:

"The probability of the fact that the European Union will delay the signing of the association agreement with Ukraine now exceeds 50 per cent. Because after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in August-September this year the European Union felt that it was the winner. The EU leadership is sure that Ukraine has left no choice for itself. Therefore, political pressure on Ukraine in favour of an extrajudicial ruling on Tymoshenko's case has grown, and the Europeans have staked on it. It is not ruled out that now they will have to stick to their point and abandon the idea of signing the EU-Ukraine association agreement."

The delay – should it be an accomplished fact – is to the liking of many people. Earlier this week a group of businessmen asked Viktor Yanukovych to delay the signing of the association membership agreement at least for one year. One of the Ukrainian businessmen, Valentin Landik, said that the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine would restrict export to the Customs Union member-countries and that it might make Ukraine's products non-competitive on the market. Later he was supported by Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov:

"I would like everybody to know that nobody has offered us any compensation for the loss of this market. And we must do our utmost to prevent the closure of our enterprises. People must receive their wages and pensions. The lack of money will cause a decrease in the demand for goods. And this will be a heavy blow to the Ukrainian economy. This issue is one of those that can be settled later."

Moscow has repeatedly warned that in case of closeness between Ukraine and the European Union, the privileged regime for the access of Ukrainian goods to the Russian market will be halted. Official Kiev is well aware of the fact that what might follow are an economic collapse and social disturbances. And as regards Ukraine's joining the Eurasian integration project would be beneficial for the Ukrainian economy. However, Kiev is not yet ready to take such a step, expert with the Institute of International Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Leonid Gusev says:

"Separate agreements will be signed. In fact, they were signed. Ukraine has always said that it is ready to cooperate within the framework of the 3 plus 1 formula – meaning the three member-countries of the Customs Union and Ukraine separately. Ukraine is also ready to get an observer status or associated membership status in the organization. Such statements are being made because Ukraine wants to have freedom of action. Most likely, such balancing between Russia on the one hand and the European Union, or to be more exact – the West on the other hand, will continue."

And as regards the opposition, according to the Vice President of the Centre for Modeling Strategic Development Grigory Trofimchuk, the opposition will hold protest rallies in any case. And one more thing here. Not all of the opposition members would welcome the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, he added.

"Tymoshenko's imprisonment is much better for the opposition leaders than her release. The point is that the Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko has a chance to show his worth only while Tymoshenko is jailed. Otherwise, the opposition programme will be immediately wrapped up."

And still, Kiev has a chance to sign the association membership agreement with the European Union this year. According to the European Union Representative Alexander Kwasnevski, this issue will be settled positively, in case the law making it possible to release Yulia Tymoshenko is adopted before November 19th . Otherwise, the signing of the associated membership agreement will be delayed, at least, for another two years.

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