Ukraine elections represent pro-European 'milestone'

The EU is committed to assisting democratisation and establishing the rule of law for the Ukrainian people, writes Jacek Saryusz- Wolski.

By Jacek Saryusz-Wolski

18 Jul 2014

Recent presidential elections held in Ukraine were an important milestone in consolidating the democratic pro-European agenda of Ukraine. First, these elections have proven that the broad majority of Ukrainians throughout the whole of Ukraine support the pro-European agenda declared by the UA govern- ment. Second, these elections have unified Ukrainians around the common aim to see a European-style, well-governed rule of law state. Third, the election results have also proven there is low support among Ukrainians for far-right candidates, as together those groupings gathered as little as two per cent of the vote. Therefore, the newly elected president is a legitimate representative for the EU and Nato, as well as the wider inter- national community, and is mandated to continue on the path of the European integration.

The EU's agenda for Ukraine is to help this country in democratising and establishing rule of law state. As the trans- formation process is rather costly, the EU has allocated for a Ukraine support package amounting to €11bn. Recently the EU has disbursed €250m of non-reimbursable assistance to Ukraine within the mentioned package. This assistance is to support the Ukraine's objective to target endemic corruption. In addition, the EU has developed for Ukraine a €1.6bn EU macro-financial assistance loan programme, which is aimed at the external financing needs of Ukraine.

This significant financial support comes with assistance initiatives which were tailor-made for Ukraine. First, the support group for Ukraine will help with expertise for political and economic reforms. Second, the crisis management group will bring civilian police and security experts who will advise on reorganising and restricting the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine and therefore re-establish confidence in law enforcement bodies and serve to deescalate the crisis.

Differently from Nato, the EU has no mili- tary force. Differently from the EU, Nato can apply article five (the duty to defend) exclu- sively towards its member states. Therefore, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the regular demonstration of its military force in Kaliningrad, security concerns were raised in the eastern EU member states. Consequently, Nato has reinforced its command structure located in Belgium, as well as agreed to bolster protection in eastern Europe. These measures would also include air and sea patrols, more exercises and training from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

With regards to Ukraine, Nato was instrumental in providing analysis, expertise and satellite photos during the crisis, showing distribution of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine and along its border. As a long-term project, and having consulted with the EU ambassadors, Nato is developing a military aid package for Ukraine, which is aimed at helping Kyiv establish strong armed forces.

The EU and Nato have complementary functions in helping Ukraine to become a stable democracy able to militarily secure its independence. The EU's support is indispensable for Ukraine in the process of building an economically self- sustainable state, governed by rule of law, while Nato should help Ukraine establish a strong army and reinforce its defence capabilities. Eventually both agendas will bring Ukraine significantly closer to the EU and Nato.

Following Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the surveys show that Ukrainians in the west and east, as well as in Crimea, are manifesting growing support not only for EU integration, but also for Nato membership. Therefore, the rhetoric question, which still is a subject for verification, is whether the EU-Nato agenda would bring Ukraine to eventual membership.

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