Speaking after the start of the ninth round of negotiations on a new EU-Ukraine agreement on Wednesday, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev said, “For Ukraine, the European neighbourhood policy doesn’t exist. All elements contained in the ENP were already implemented or about to be implemented by Ukraine.
“For the time being there is no real added value. The ENP is considered as a replacement for enlargement, which is very dangerous for Ukraine. That’s why, for us, it’s unacceptable.”
Yelisieiev said officials at the meeting made “significant progress” on the preamble to the new enhanced agreement, one of the most contentious issues on the table for the next EU-Ukraine summit on 9 September in Evian.
Ukraine wants a firm “membership perspective” written into the preamble, effectively making it an accession pact.
The EU, however, has refused to be drawn on what kind of agreement it will be, with external relations chief Benita Ferrero-Waldner admitting only last week that the executive still “didn’t know”.
But Ukraine has not changed its stance on the ENP, as Yelisieiev admits. “From the very beginning we were critical. From the very beginning our president stated that the limited or narrow framework of this policy is not suitable for the strategic goal of Ukraine, which is EU integration.”
He said Ukraine wants practical offers from the EU, and wouldn’t be drawn on the recent Polish and Swedish initiative for an ‘eastern partnership’ until he sees exactly what it suggests.
“If the substance reflects Ukrainian interests, we could accept it. For us, the litmus test for this initiative is a visa-free regime. If that is there, then of course we will have a positive reaction.”
A ‘visa facilitation’ regime for Ukraine came into effect on 1 January this year, which was supposed to make it easier for Ukrainian citizens to apply for EU visas.
However, according to Yelisieiev, there have been many violations of “clear-cut articles” in the agreement since that date.
His idea, which he says he has put to EU politicians, is to create what he calls a roadmap containing “realistic and clear-cut benchmarks” to be met by Ukraine, preparing the ground for visa-free travel.
“If EU leaders have a strategic political vision, they need to send to Ukraine at this stage a very clear political message that in the future they will recognise the European aspirations of Ukraine,” he added.
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