March 26, 2018

European Week of Ukraine

The Most Important Issues Concerning the Interests of Ukraine and the EU and NATO

The European Union keeps paying special attention to Ukraine. March 19, 2018, during the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, the issues of support of reforms in our country were discussed. The participants of the meeting welcomed Ukraine's progress in this sphere, in particular, its having achieved concrete results in reforming the energy sector and the country's pension system.

In this regard, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy F. Mogherini expressed the European Union's intention to continue to assist Ukraine in two main areas, namely: full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, as well as support to the reform process inside Ukraine. At the same time, she emphasized the need to intensify Ukraine's efforts in fighting corruption, in particular, speeding up the process of creating an anti-corruption court.

At the same time, EU foreign ministers pointed out the progress in implementing the plans for establishing a free trade area between Ukraine and the European Union, which promotes the active development of trade and economic cooperation between the parties. Thus, in January this year, Ukraine increased its exports to European countries by 23.5 % compared to last year. Due to this, the share of the European Union in Ukraine's total export has reached 45.8 %.

 

Of great importance for Ukraine is also the EU's support for the Ukrainian position on the Crimean issue. March 20, 2018, the European Union issued a formal statement regarding non-recognition of the Crimea and Sevastopol belonging to Russia, as well as the results of Russia's presidential elections in the Crimean Peninsula. Along with this, a group of European Parliament Members criticized President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who greeted V. Putin on his victory in the elections, however, did not mention the Crimea problem in any way.

 

Other Aspects of Cooperation Between Ukraine and Its Western Partners

Vice President of the European Commission for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic
Vice President of the European Commission
for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic

The leadership of the European Commission confirms willingness for mediation in resolving the disagreements between Russia and Ukraine on Russian gas transit to the Ukrainian territory. According to Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission for Energy Union, the EU is interested in ending the confrontation between Russian “Gazprom” and Ukrainian “Naftogaz” and is ready to facilitate the parties' signing a new transit contract after 2019. Considering the importance of this issue for both Europe and Russia and Ukraine, he urged the fast start of the tripartite talks, and also expressed his intention to take personal part in their conduct.

 

In the context of Russia's next “gas” war against Ukraine, the positive significance for our state, which strengthens its position in the negotiations, is the EU's steps to block the Russian project “Nord Stream 2”. March 21, 2018, the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) approved the draft rules that extend the European legislation on the energy market for underwater (offshore) gas pipelines. According to the so-called Third Energy Package of the EU, the same company cannot individually develop, transport and distribute gas.

 

Some Events and Factors Affecting Ukraine's Relations with Western Countries and International Organizations

Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee,
General Petr Pavel

In the words of the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, in an interview with Deutsche Welle on March 20, over the past four years, Ukraine has been able to move substantially closer to the North Atlantic Alliance, including through defense reform and the participation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Alliance's exercises and operations. At this, preserving Ukraine's independence and its democratic development were called the key factor in Euro-Atlantic security. Proceeding from the above-said, P. Pavel expressed firm intentions of NATO and individual member countries to continue active measures to support Ukraine.

 

Solidarity with Ukraine was also expressed on March 21 by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Jacek Czaputowicz during the 2018 hearings on Polish foreign policy priorities. In particular, he supported the position of Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia, and expressed confidence in maintaining a positive character and further development of Polish-Ukrainian relations. In this regard, he especially emphasized the deepening of cooperation between the two countries in the military, military-technical and transport spheres.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Jacek Czaputowicz address to the Sejm on 21 March, 2018
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Jacek Czaputowicz address to the Sejm on 21 March, 2018

At the same time, anti-Ukrainian statements by the leadership of Hungary and certain political forces of Poland remain a negative factor in the development of cooperation between Ukraine and the EU and NATO.

March 19, 2018, Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded from Ukraine to provide legal guarantees for amending the new Law on education that would take into account the interests of the Hungarian minority, and also refrain from putting it into effect before 2023. At this, Ukraine was actually accused of violating its obligations to protect national minorities. Besides, Hungary confirmed its position on the possibility of its return to supporting Ukraine in NATO and the EU only after the above-mentioned issues having been addressed. They also expressed concern about the plans to redeploy to Berehovo (the city with the largest Hungarian community) a Battalion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The same day, near the Ukrainian Embassy in Warsaw, Polish nationalist organizations held an anti-Ukrainian demonstration. The event was attended by representatives of the National Movement (RN), National-Radical Camp (ONR) and All-Polish Youth (MW).

The actions of the Hungary’s leadership and Polish nationalists are actively supported by the Russian media, which is intended to provoke an aggravation of relations between Ukraine and the countries of the CEE.