„I would like to recommend you an article of Yaroslav Mendus, my Ukrainian adviser and a former deputy to Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The text was published in the newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda and it contains the analysis of a recent state of play in the European Union-Ukraine relations. It is definitely worth reading” – Marek Siwiec
“A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman – of the next generation”. James Freeman Clarke
“He did not seem to care which way he travelled providing he was in the driver’s seat”. William Beaverbrook, on David Lloyd George
While politicians are lounging on the beaches of Costa Smeralda or French Riviera and thinking of twists and turns of the following political season, it seems that Ukraine represented by the President Viktor Yanukovych has finally determined its geopolitical priority.
As they say in the outcome of a known Jewish joke: “That’s all, that’s all! Nobody is going nowhere”.
It seems that Viktor Yanukovych realized that based on the logic of challenge for the second presidential term he does not have any arguments to count on success of Vilnius Summit in November 2013.
Europe has always emphasized that rapprochement between Ukraine and European Union is more like an indulgence of Brussels, but not its strategic interest. Being engaged in its own political, economic, financial and social problems, European community took with caution and surprise the desire of Ukrainian authorities and opposition to endue it with the role of severe, but fair arbitrator who will bear responsibility for all of the most important problems in Ukraine.
First of all – for economic problems.
European commissioners said it again and again that rapprochement with European Union is a civilizational choice which will bring economic dividends in prospect, but first it may lead to losses due to uncompetitiveness of Ukrainian economy.
Instead, Viktor Yanukovych requires the result today, one and a half year before presidential election, to have a chance to win.
Neither was there any breakthrough in energy industry.
Ukraine joined the 3rd Energy Package of European Union, started to purchase necessary gas in European spot markets, demonstrated to Russia that it has energy alternative – but… In conditions of continuance of economic crisis, energy demanding export industries are working with minimum margin. At the same time Russia declares its readiness to decrease the gas price, but in the event if Ukraine refocuses towards Customs Union.
Again, in anticipation of traditional pre-election beneficence of authorities – this is a real chance of making the electorate happy.
Next – Ukrainian economy badly lacks credit resources.
All attempts to persuade IMF and European politicians in reasonability of renewal of access to “cheap and long-term” credit funds – failed. Geopolitical arguments of Ukrainian authorities faced rough pragmatism of world financial centers: first – increasing gas prices for population and reduction of deficit of Pension Fund, and then – prolongation of credit programs.
Pursuing its own geopolitical interests, Russia is ready to grant such credit funds without taking into consideration Ukrainian economic indicators.
Sociologic results confirmed that primary electorate of Viktor Yanukovych in the East and in the South of Ukraine is not impressed with European prospective in the future, but wants “improvements already today” and is open to rapprochement with its North Eastern neighbor.
In this context confident claims of the leaders of opposition that Yanukovych will be able to sign the agreement with European Union only upon release of Tymoshenko confirm either lack of knowledge of such leaders or intentional playing along with authorities. It seems that from political point of view it is important for Yanukovych that failure of Vilnius Summit is deemed not as a result of his political 180-degree turn, but as a natural result of uncompromising attitude of European Union in Tymoshenko case and blocking by Ukrainian opposition of rapprochement between current authorities and Brussels.
With regard to release of Tymoshenko or her treatment in Germany I have to say that it is like a proverb “A fool is getting rich in his head”.
For true admirers of the patient of the Central Hospital of “Ukrzaliznytsya” words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Kozhara shall be a wake-up call, in particular a couple of days ago he said the following: “International and national legislation does not envisage a possibility of treatment of the accused former Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko abroad. And if someone thinks that Tymoshenko can be released, as it is mentioned in the resolution of European Union, it is – a huge illusion, it is – impossible”.
It should be remembered that according to the current regime the minister of foreign affairs only announces the messages formulated in the chief office on Bankova Street. Therefore, there are grounds for believing that release of Tymoshenko under the pressure of European community and Ukrainian opposition would mean demonstration of weakness for Yanukovych, first of all in the eyes of his companions, and would confirm that he may fall under influence in contradiction with his own interests.
Under the authoritarian government which exists de facto in Ukraine such a step equals to “heroic act” of Gogol officer’s widow who, as is well known, cut herself.
Therefore, no release of Julia Tymoshenko before Vilnius Summit shall be expected.
And if no agreement is signed with European Union in November – then we shall forget of any changes in the fate of former Prime Minister until there is any real change of authorities in Ukraine.
The case is that currently Putin is not likely to raise the issue of Tymoshenko and the opinion of European Union will be less interesting for Ukrainian President in new-old political reality.
Those are the versions of old Soviet blockbusters…
In this context prudent German Hegel is worth recalling: “History repeats twice: first as tragedy, then as farce”.
Let’s hope that farce does not continue for a long period.
Yaroslav Mendus, for UPAuthor : Marek Siwiec MEP