It may be just time for the EU to start being something else than ‘preoccupied’ or ‘open to membership‘ when it comes to its neighbours. When we look at the current situation regarding Turkey and Ukraine, we can see how much the EU is missing a ‘neighbourhood policy‘* and its leaders a strategic vision. (Franck Biancheri – 23/11/2004)
Beyond the seemingly very diverging position of the EU concerning Ankara and Kiev lies the same two factors: weakness and lack of vision of its leaders and institutions.
Weakness to tell the first one that whatever is said, they will not join the EU in the next 20 years at least and that it should be time to begin looking at an alternative kind of close relationship; weakness to tell the second one that though they will not join the EU in the next 20 years, the EU wants to create strong ties with this country and therefore will condition any close relationship to the respect of fundamental principles in terms of democracy and human rights.
Lack of vision with Ankara because by refusing to talk a language of truth our leaders are going to loose the referenda on the EU Constitution, while in the end generating backlash with the Turkish people too when it will become obvious that accession will not come. Lack of vision with Kiev because our leaders still believe that Putin’s Russia has some ‘right’ to keep a ‘veto’ on Ukraine’s future, hoping that it will help future EU/Russia relations; while on the contrary, everything which may lead the Russian leadership to think that the EU is not very serious about sharing common values with its neighbours will in the end weaken the EU position towards Russia.
When even the OSCE is stating that elections were not fitting with core European criteria, then there is no reason to keep on waiting. To move now regarding Ukraine and clearly say today that the EU will not work with a government elected thanks to massive fraud is not going to generate a dangerous situation; especially if a parallel message is passed to Moscow stating that the EU makes of Ukraine a test of future EU/Russia relations. On the contrary it will prevent today major unrest in this country and a possible violent development of the situation; and it will certainly prevent such kind of crisis in the future common neighbourhood of the EU and Russia. As history taught us, it is electoral fraud which endangers a country’s future; not strong reactions against the fraud.
By acting now along this line, the EU will show its capacity to have a vision of democracy and stability for its neighbours; and demonstrate that it is ready to put its actions in line with its declarations, showing that the EU has the will and the power to improve things in a sustainable way. Meanwhile it will pave the way for a consistent vision for its neighbourhood policy, which will have to deal with Ukraine, as well as with Turkey, in the coming two decades.