On the plus side, the summit took place at an appropriately high level with European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in tow, offering President Viktor Yanukovych a much-desired photo opportunity that demonstrated Euro-Ukrainian bonhomie.
At the same time, Europe’s balking at even the initialing of an Association Agreement meant that the year’s important progress toward Ukraine’s deeper economic participation in Europe was put on hold.
For both parties, the summit was a missed opportunity finally to start the clock in the process of Ukraine’s closer integration into Europe. European leaders should rightly have raised deterioration in the human rights climate in Ukraine, most of it the byproduct of the country’s weak rule of law. But they also should have taken the first step and initialed the agreement, adding momentum to Ukraine’s integration process while putting the ball in Yanukovych’s court.