Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU should welcome Ukraine

Delivered in Plenary - 23rd October 2002

Mr President

I welcome the fact that enlargement is proceeding relatively smoothly. However, when the whole of the EU institutional machinery is focused on the enlargement process, do not forget that there are other European countries with very legitimate cultural and historical links to Europe. They feel aggrieved that their ambitions for EU membership in the long term are being ignored and decreed unrealistic, particularly by the Commission. I have in mind particularly Ukraine, which is locked in a political struggle between westernisers and those who wish to see it join a reinvented economic union with Russia and the eastern republics.

As soon as this round of enlargement is over, we must reconsider our policies to other countries in Europe. I am thinking here of the Balkan states in particular and neighbouring countries such as Ukraine which need anchoring in peace, prosperity and western security. Since the break-up of the former Soviet Union ten years ago, they have moved some way towards democracy, human rights and good government, although a great deal remains to be done. If Turkey has been granted candidate status, surely a country like Ukraine has just as much, if not more, of a claim to be a candidate for the European family of nations in an enlarged, wider and looser European Union.