Sergey Sobolev: “The Faster Ukraine Integrates into the EU the Better”

By Oleg Gorbunov

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has reached his X time of European strategy. This December the Summit Ukraine-EU shall take place, within the frameworks of which during two years of Yanukovych’s presidency they have planned to sign an Association Treaty of Ukraine and the EU that would include into itself also the treaty on the establishment of free trade area Ukraine-EU. However, considering imprisonment of Yulia Timoshenko and approach with Russia this prospect is doubted by experts. “Politcom.ru” asked the Chairman of the “shadow government” of Ukraine one of the leaders of “Batskivshchina” party Sergey Sobolev to answer the questions whether Ukraine is ready to go the unstable EU and whether it can count on further integration.

- In case of further approach with the European Union and entering into the Euro zone, is Ukraine ready to bear the responsibility for financial stability of the EU equally to the other member-states?

- This is quite a far prospect yet. Now we are talking about other actions. First of all, this is the establishment of Free Trade Area, secondly, it is adaptation of our legislation to the one of the European Union. And later on we’ll have talks on direct entrance of Ukraine into the EU. This is the issue of not less than 7-10 years. Talking about present days, then I think that at this stage the key demands of the EU become more rigid not only towards the states that would like to sign an association agreement, but the EU revises interrelations also inside itself. Those who want to follow the EU rules, should also accomplish key standards demanded by the European Union.
- Shall Ukrainian government manage to sign the Association Treaty with the EU this December?

- The European Parliament in its last resolution has underlined several key demands for that:

1) ending of political repressions and release of all political prisoners (Y. Timoshenko and Y.Lucenko), assurance of their access to elections;

2) agreement with the opposition on the amendments into the law on elections, instead of introduction of amendments which were actively promoted by the authorities, anticipating cheating during elections;

3) reforming of courts, prosecutor’s office, law enforcement agencies.

This is quite a big deal of work.
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Yanukovych has surrendered within several points. He refused of the idea of lobbying the law which would completely break all democratic structure of elections. The authorities have agreed to establish an agreement commission with the opposition, which started its work on Friday. As for decriminalization of political criminal code articles, then last week the voting failed to be held. The talks were postponed for this week.

As for the prospect of reforms of courts, prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies, then here shall be the consensus of the whole society. As courts has turned into a lady serving for the interests of the power. The Prosecutor’s office has become the site of fight between oligarchs. Ukraine shall be liable to reform this system. This is the need of the whole society. In addition, this demand set by the Council of Europe towards Ukraine, where our country and Russia are the full value members that undertook the liabilities.
- Is Ukrainian power morally and politically ready to decriminalize the code articles for which was judged Y. Timoshenko, and thus  to accomplish a part of demands, set by the EU towards Ukraine?

- For current government decriminalization of code articles is the same as to lose within the following parliamentary and presidential elections. There is another variant.

Unfortunately the interests of Russian authorities prevail under the interests of joint cooperation. The free trade zone treaty in the CIS, signed in Saint Petersburg, hasn’t introduced anything new to Ukraine. We once again have dozens of exclusions from the zone, which we by the way don’t have in the last draft of the free trade area treaty with the EU. These are not only oil and gas, these are dozens of items regarding metal products, pipes, agrarian goods, etc. Much depends on how good Ukrainian government shall understand that European strategy is not just a contrast to Russian market. Within the frames of European strategy after the establishment of the free trade area there also should be established the free trade area with the Russian Federation which we’ve dreamt of since 1994 when we ratified that first treaty in the Ukrainian Parliament. Then the Russian Parliament didn’t ratify this treaty that was without exemptions and exclusions.

For our authorities the signing of the Association Treaty in December 2011 is almost an impossible mission. They strive into the EU, without following its norms. In any community there are rules to be followed if you want to be a member.

There are two-three weeks left till the moment these issues have to be solved. One and half months is left till the Summit in December. I think that with V. Yanukovych or without him – public opinion of Ukraine supports the side of the European Union, integration within the frameworks of the EU. The kind of Treaty, obviously, shall be signed already without Yanukovych which is bad. As the faster the better.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from politcom.ru