I was in London last week meeting ministers; experts dealing with Ukraine in a number of government departments; and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ukraine, made up of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords with a particular interest in this country.
People in the UK are keen to know what is happening in Ukraine; and whether the Ukrainian leadership fully understand what needs to happen in order for progress to be made on the process of EU integration.
I discussed some of these issues in a recent blog, including what exactly the EU wished to see in order for the signature and ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement to happen
Meanwhile over the weekend the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, gave an interview underlining that the door to Europe was open for Ukraine if the country complied with European standards.
Fule said: “From the very start we were frank and open with our Ukrainian friends in the issues of the preparation of the Association Agreement and said that the EU and its member states may show understanding and flexibility in many issues. However there is no room for compromise in the matters related to fundamental democratic values, humans rights and freedoms, legislation, judicial independence.”
Fule’s statement is important for two reasons. First, it makes clear that the door to Europe is open, if Ukraine wants that. Second, it underlines that, while there is an immense amount of good will towards Ukraine in Europe and a wish to be helpful where possible, there are some red lines on fundamental values which cannot be crossed
As I said in the blog referred to in the second paragraph above, it all depends whether Ukraine has the political will to move towards joining the European club by behaving in an EU-type way. That includes ensuring that opposition leaders detained on the basis of flawed trials are freed and able to participate in the political process.
I, along with those in London who want Ukraine to succeed, hope we will see progress on this, and on moving towards signing and ratifying the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, in the coming weeks and months.
Incidentally I have seen some commentary in recent days suggesting that the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), which is part of the the Association Agreement, would somehow benefit the EU more than Ukraine. This is incorrect: the DCFTA would benefit both. For more detail, see the speech by EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht to the European Parliament on 20 October
Leigh Turner has been the British Ambassador to Ukraine since June 2008. You can read all his blog entries at blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/turnerenglish (in English) or blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/turner/ (Ukrainian)