For over 11 months, Ukraine has been showing the world the art of the impossible. It has survived the onslaught of a massive Russian military attack; united Western allies in defense of its territory; and begun reshaping global international order. Now, Ukraine seeks to perform another miracle.
In a recent interview with Politico, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine has “a very ambitious plan to join the EU within the next two years,” and expects “that this year, in 2023, we can already have [the] pre-entry stage of negotiations.”
On Feb. 3, the EU will hold a Kyiv summit to discuss Ukraine’s accession process. Naysayers will certainly have an easy time rebuffing Ukraine’s aspiration.
I, on the other hand, am far more interested in starting a public debate over what must happen so that Ukraine achieves its ambition. Here is what I see as the core requirements:
1. Ukraine needs to win the war with Russia by liberating its entire territory, including Crimea and Donbas, and re-establishing its pre-2014 borders;
2. Ukraine and Russia need to sign a peace agreement, which will include war reparations covering the reconstruction of Ukraine;
3. Ukraine must engage in the most massive anti-corruption and de-oligarchization drive since it declared independence from the Soviet Union on August 24, 1991;
4. Ukraine must demonstrate full adherence to European democratic values, including religious tolerance, civic freedoms, and protection of the rights of the minorities, including, controversially, its ethnic Russian and Russian speaking populations;
5. Ukraine will have to synchronize its legislation with that of the EU;
6. A bonus point – Ukraine, whose economy has been horrendously energy inefficient prior to the war, needs to rebuild focusing on energy independence, sustainability, and circular economy principles.
Clearly, none of the above can be achieved by Ukraine alone.
Ukraine needs Western military assistance to roll back Russian troops.
Ukraine needs continuous sanctions against Russia and global diplomatic pressure to ensure Russia pays up for the destruction it has caused so that Ukraine is not left hamstrung with the massive war debt. Both Ukraine and the EU will have to leverage the most recent technological advances (for example, a permissioned distributed ledger) to synchronize Ukraine’s and the EU’s legislation.
Finally, Ukraine must step up its anti-corruption drive as its record to-date is more declarative than deliverable. Overall, there is no “silver bullet” for tackling corruption, though Singapore’s corruption control framework offers one of the best models.
In other words, it will, in fact, take the entire world to get Ukraine into the EU asap - and even then the process won’t be easy.
But, perhaps, it is the undertaking worth attempting?
The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.
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