European Union diplomats
currently describe Ukraine
as the biggest foreign policy "challenge" of the day.
Last week, Frank-Walter
Steinmeier and Radoslaw Sikorski, the German and Polish foreign ministers,
wrote to their colleagues to warn of "destabilising effects" of
potential developments in Ukraine's
could have wide ranging consequences," they wrote.
Ukraine is becoming the main location of a
strategic battle between Russian and the EU over the country's future as an
Eastern or Western facing country.
Following the Georgian war
last year, the Ukraine has
complained that Russia is
systematically issuing Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea.
A document recently
circulated by German diplomats in the EU warns that the Crimea issue could lead
to "a serious deterioration of relations" between Russia and Ukraine.
Berlin has suggested "raising the
issue of Crimea with Ukraine
in a more systematic way" with the goal of "strengthening 'European'
identity in Crimea, fostering ties with Europe
and the West".
But there is a problem.
The EU is meddling without
offering the Ukraine
anything. The EU as a more-or-less cynical diplomatic bloc of officialdom is
certainly not being a good European in the internationalist sense.
Ukraine is seen as health and safety,
stability problem not as country whose peoples might see themselves as
Last night, just before the
substance-light "Eastern Partnership" summit in Prague
on Thurs, the EU retreated from cementing a firm alliance with countries such
because of fears of a domestic popular backlash against migration from the
The term "European
countries", to refer to the six former Soviet countries, was dropped from
draft texts to avoid any hint that it would imply future EU membership and
The EU ambassadors also
watered down commitments to "visa liberalisation", allowing people
from the region greater work and business access to European countries.
EU visa liberalisation,
allowing more Ukrainians, including people from the Crimea, to work in Europe could play a vital role in taking tension out of
the region by offering people something new.
Russia offers passports, the EU won't even
ease up on visas.
Germany and the Netherlands
forced changes to the summit communiqué because they are running scared of
popular opposition to immigration. It is a political, public argument Europe's elites are not prepared to have.
Why should Ukraine or its peoples look to the West and Europe when they are regarded as a threat, not as fellow
Without giving the Ukraine and its
peoples a real prospect of being European, particularly via the freedoms of
travel and work, the EU will end up destabilising the region further.