"Accession prospects" not on agenda but no door has been left closed
Agence Europe - 14 January 2005
Strasbourg, 13/01/2005 - According to MEPs, the historic changes represented by the presidential elections in Ukraine justify accession possibilities for this country that has reaffirmed its European vocation. Janez Potocnik, however, confirmed at Thursday's plenary that the European Commission's position was as follows: there was no reason to renegotiate the action plan contained in the neighbourhood policy and that the "question of Ukrainian accession is not on the agenda". At the end of the debate, the Commissioner, defending the opportunities in the Action Plan, added that "this does not close any doors".
Action Plan neighbourhood policy, according to the Commissioner would a allow for a "shift to a higher gear" in cooperation with Kiev and a "significant upgrading" of relations with Ukraine. The plan comprehensively covers all the areas of cooperation, including conflict prevention and solutions: the EU/Ukraine Cooperation Council on 26 February is expected to launch a formal plan. This plan, highlights the Commissioner, could be "modified" to take into accounts requests from Kiev, as well as the progress achieved in the democratisation process. It is not necessary to renegotiate the plan, repeated Potocnik in reply to questions, as the text, he explained was ambitious and flexible and had to take into account Ukraine's European aspirations and that fact that the country was again on the European map. the Commissioner asked how this plan could be out of date before it had even come into force, adding that in the case of Ukraine, the Commission is ready to go far".
Several of the observers who intervened in the debate had been observers in the presidential elections last December in Ukraine. Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE, France), said that this had made her feel proud to be European. She underlined the sense of civic duty of Ukrainian institutions. Jackek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP/ED) was the first to call for a boost to relations with Ukraine and regretted the limited goals of the Action Plan. The plan does not allow for intensifying relations with Ukraine and renegotiations is necessary, insisted Belgian Liberal Annemie Neyts, who pointed out that all European countries fulfilling the required conditions could be a candidate for accession. French Green Marie Anne Isler Beguin said that Ukraine had chosen what side it was on and that this had obvious therefore upset the EU's policies. She said that work groups were currently examining the possibility of Ukraine's integration into the EU. Jiri Mastalka (GUE/NGL, Czech) said that life in Ukraine did not fit at all with the image of it abroad. He said that the country had the right to resist foreign interference, where ever it came from. Maciej Giertich (Independence and Democracy, Poland) asked who had funded the "orange revolution" and the campaign of the new president (notably the 33,000 mobile phones made available to the opponents of the current regime) and who would benefit from the natural resources of the country when they were in a position of being fully exploited. Michal Kaminski (UEN, Poland) replied that hey had also warn orange when they had went to Ukraine but not for defending one candidate alone, their cause, he explained was that of democracy. This was a cause that Irena Belohorska (non attached, Slovakia) had pursued for ten years as a member of the Council of Europe. Her conclusion, if it is the wish of the Ukraine, it should be allowed to become a member of the Union.
Elmar Brok (EPP-ED) the president of the foreign affair committee confirmed that this was good that Ukraine could decide for itself where it wanted to go. Brok said that the Union had to assist its citizens understand that it was worth turning to the west and to do so, the Action Plan was not enough. Brok added that the Union had to be able to accept other Member States but to do this, it had to be able to work with the current new Member States (Brok was alluding to the countries, which on Wednesday had voted against the Constitution). Polish Socialist Marek Siewic said that the time had come to make election slogans a reality by inviting all Ukrainians to work together. He said that they would get nowhere if 44% of the country were against them, they would get nowhere. He said that they should not be afraid of this big country. Polish Liberal Grazyna Staniszewska was pleased that in Ukraine they had not left the major role to the USA and that the EU should not take a step backwards now. This position was defended by German Green of Czech descent, Milan Horacek as well who drew attention to the fact that Ukraine was suffering form the effects of Chernobyl and the effects of the Russian system at the same time. this wave of democratisation should, according to Dutch MEP Bastiaan Belder (Independence and Democracy) contaminate Belarus and, eventually, Russia. Yes, Russia should also have the option to choose between the past and the future one day, said the Estonian Tunne Kelam, who compared the existing oligarchy up to the recent elections in Ukraine to that which governed the Indonesia of Sukarno. According to Latvia's Guntar Krasts (UEN), we must be attentive to the dangers of territorial division, and promote Ukraine's energy independence from the Russian market. If support for the democratic process in Ukraine was as swift and efficient as it was, this is also because it was in the interests of the EU, noted Bogdan Klich (EPP-ED, Poland), calling for a conference of donors as soon as possible. How can we offer Turkey membership but not Ukraine? asked British Conservative Charles Tannock, who feels that this is a "morally untenable" position. He raised France's unjustified fears of possible competition for Ukraine in the field of agriculture, and of Germany in the field of industry.
EP in favour of a European perspective ending in Ukrainian accession
The Parliament adopted a resolution by six political groups (EPP-ED, PES, ALDE, Greens/EFA, GUE-NGL and UEN) by 467 in favour, 19 against and 7 abstentions, which: calls for a revision of the action plan for Ukraine, calls upon the Council and Commission to "make additional offers, for example by organising a conference of donor countries similar to that of 16 and 17 June 2004 for Georgie" and (amendment by Bogdan Adal Klich for EPP-ED) and visa facilities, the rapid recognition of its market economy status and support for Ukraine's accession to the WTO. The Parliament calls upon the EU to look at other forms of association as well, "in order to offer the country a well-defined European perspective (…), which may end in the country's accession to the EU". The Parliament also calls on Ukraine's new political leaders to promote democracy and reforms, "by overcoming the political division which reigns in Ukraine". It calls upon "all political leaders, including the former opposition, to make efforts to forget these divisions. The Parliament "believes that continued threats of separatism in Ukraine are unaccpetbale, and spoke in favour of Ukrainian territorial integrity".