Ukraine: a new president, a new foreign policy?

26 October 2010

Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, Ukrainian Foreign Minister said Ukraine has broken with the situation where it was seen as a tool in US-Soviet relations. European integration is a foreign policy priority and a positive choice for Ukrainians and has resulted in domestic reforms and pragmatic cooperation with the EU structures and other EU Member States together.

Ukraine is on the path to a pragmatic, down-to-earth foreign policy, and is now sufficiently politically stable to implement reforms to facilitate Ukraine’s European integration. These include taking measures as a precursor to the EU-Ukraine FTA and updating legislation to join the Energy Community Treaty.

The country has also taken important steps in constitutional reform. The Constitutional Court cancelled the constitutional changes taken in 2004, which resulted in constant internal confrontations and rivalry between the branches of power, which paralysed the country.

Political reforms are underway to develop the institutions for a representative democracy. For example, the recent local elections were fair and had broad representation, and were monitored by international observers, including from the European Parliament.

Kiev is working on an ambitious Association Agreement between Ukraine and EU and working to create a deep, comprehensive Free Trade Area and provide Ukraine with real access to the EU Single Market. Ukraine is taking measures comparable to those of an EU candidate country making preparation for its pre-accession position, but without the benefit of the statutory pre-accession instruments or financial support.

In return Kiev would like the EU to make some concessions, such as concrete steps towards economic integration, with the European Union prepared to open its market and expand its ‘four freedoms’, particularly for individuals to move freely in search of employment.

Secondly Ukraine wants its citizens to have visa-free access to the EU, and this could be discussed at this November’s EU-Ukraine Summit. Considering all the steps Ukraine has taken for greater EU integration. “It is time for the European Union to deliver”.

While Ukraine has much to do to become a full member of the European family, it is already united by values, history and aspirations, and “will not lose this unique opportunity to bring the EU and Ukraine closer”.