Wait and see’ will not help Ukraine

By Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, Ambassador of Ukraine to the EU

Sir, While expressing my deep appreciation of a profound analysis offered by the FT in the article “Which way to turn?” (November 12) I still believe it is worth adding some highlights as well as reinforcing some conclusions.


Ukraine has already clearly chosen which way to turn. You will hardly find any other state in Europe that has made, in just half a year, similar unique efforts aimed at introducing fundamental reforms despite the external pressure described in the article. It is a proof of a clear-cut European choice by Ukraine, the choice in favour of painful but vitally important reforms rather than easy and passive surrender to the post-Soviet style of governance.


At the same time, it is still unclear whether the EU is ready to digest this resolute choice of Ukraine. Despite obvious tangible progress by Ukraine, some EU member states continue hiding behind the shield of the Yulia Tymoshenko case as an excuse for not signing this seminal “association” agreement. I doubt the fairness of such a position. The Ukrainian authorities undertake reforms for the benefit of the Ukrainian people and the decision not to sign would hardly improve the situation of the nation.


The association agreement will not only guarantee that common values remain relevant for further process of systemic reforms in Ukraine but also become a game-changer in the European context.


The EU has to fully realise its part of this global responsibility. It must go beyond purely declarative solidarity with Ukraine, which only excites and stimulates further external pressure by the third party and its willingness to punish Ukraine for misbehaviour. In the present circumstances there is no alternative to the signing of the association agreement at the Vilnius summit and its further provisional application.


Similarly, there is no room for the “wait-and-see” approach. The EU must act, offering concrete types of support to Ukraine. To name a few: full backing of the renewal of Ukraine-IMF co-operation; rendering ambitious macro-financial assistance; the immediate opening of EU markets for the Ukrainian products meeting the relevant standards; adapting EU assistance to the needs of proper implementation of further reforms under the association agreement; disbursing financial resources for modernisation of Ukrainian Gas Transmission System and preventing the politically motivated South Stream gas project; lifting the outdated anti-dumping measures against Ukrainian exports which remain in place since the end of the 20th century.


The EU is still able to turn its face towards Ukraine rather than turning its back at this decisive moment in Europe’s history.