Ukrainian media scene is full of reports about the signing of the Association agreement and free trade area with the EU. Summit "Eastern Partnership" will take place in November, and President Viktor Yanukovych believes that both Europe and Ukraine will benefit from its positive results. 

"I am convinced that the accession of Ukraine's domestic market, its industrial and agricultural facilities to the European Economic Area will have a significant positive impact on the pan-European economic situation and will help Europe to emerge from the crisis," Yanukovych said during the presentation of investment opportunities of Ukraine at the sixth World Economic Symposium in New York.

In turn, Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov insists on equal partnership cooperation in trade and economic between Ukraine and the European Union after the signing of the Association Agreement.

Prime Minister recalled that he had met with EU's Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, and they discussed the mechanisms of economic adaptation to European standards after the signing of the Association Agreement.

"We exchanged views on the prospects of trade and economic cooperation. European Commissioner outlined EU’s interests. I expressed the Ukraine’s position. Ukraine needs to address issues of concern to our European partners, but the EU also should take steps to address the problems causing discomfort to the Ukrainian trade area," Azarov stressed.

The PM said that the prospects of Ukrainian companies on the European market are practical issues. "We have started to adapt our economy to the conditions of the EU market, and it should be done fairly quickly. We can not miss out the benefits offered by Ukraine in the transition period. In turn, European Commissioner stressed that most of the Agreements provisions will start to be temporary applied immediately upon the Agreement signing and its approval by the European Council," he stressed.

The majority of experts do not doubt that the geopolitical decision on Ukraine will be taken in Vilnius, thus the current President and its government will go down in history as European integrators. Not long ago people were not sure about the pro-European course of the ruling team and bet on others to bring the country in the EU. Does it mean that the majority has outplayed the opposition and taken its bargaining chip of European integration? How can the minority now improve its positions? ForUm has asked experts:

Yevhen Kopatko, sociologist, director of Research & Branding Group:

- Some geological changes have already happened, and Yalta Forum is a proof of that. The ruling authorities have not only stolen the initiative on European integration from the opposition, but also have managed to fulfill it. The question is what resources and opportunities should be used first. To be fair we should analyze electoral expectations of the population. The people's mood and attitude have changed, but though Ukraine has come closer to Europe, the relations with Russia have worsened significantly.

Results of Vilnius Summit will define the political and electoral situation. If the Association agreement is signed, the ruling party will win. However, Russian-Ukrainian relations remain a pressing issue, and if Ukraine manages to achieve similar breakthrough with Russia, the power will have absolute advantage. And if earlier we could not imagine the ruling party playing on the opposition's field (but it did and it won), it is even less imaginable to see "Freedom" nationalists to go to Moscow and negotiate on improvement of mutual relations. It is hard to image "Motherland" force in this role as well.

The development of the situation will depend on European and Russian factors, as well as social and economic situation in Ukraine. The power faces both risks and opportunities. The opposition may serve as an alternative, but the Party of regions has the political lead.

Volodymyr Fesenko, chairman of the Center for political research "Penta":

- European integration should not be considered a competition between the power and opposition. It is a matter of national interests. However, I believe Yanukovych takes a bigger risk than the opposition, as the majority of his supporters are in the east, closer to Russia. At the same time, Yanukovych's decision to support European integration has increased the number of supporters of the initiative itself.

The answer to the question who wins and who loses we will get after the presidential election, but the social and economic state of affairs in the country also plays an important role.

As for the opposition, till November it should support the European integration at all cost, but after the Summit it can start criticizing the authorities, thus preparing for the presidential election.

Viktor Nebozhenko, director of the sociological service "Ukrainian barometer":

- Our researches prove that Viktor Yanukovych is indeed ahead, and it does not mean that the electorate of the eastern Ukraine have turned to Europe, but that Viktor Yanukovych remains a trustworthy politician. People keep trusting him and believing that he knows the truth.

It also busts the myth about priorities of supporters of Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. Eastern voters care more about the stable social and economic situation rather than the Russian language or the choice between Russia and the EU. And if Moscow starts an information campaign against Yanukovych, it will hardly work.

For the past three years nothing has changed drastically, which is important and good.

Vitaly Kulik, director of the Center for civil society problems research:

- It is too early to discard the opposition. The subject of the European integration is wide and there is always something one can criticize others for. Moreover, there are other bargaining chips the opposition may use. I believe both the power and opposition will use every smallest opportunity to gain some points.

The issue of the European integration cannot be considered a winning point yet, but after the signing of the Association agreement the opposition will have to change the very structure of its election campaign, to seek new topics, which might thrill the society.

Vadym Karasyov, director of the Institute of global strategies:

- If your goals have been realized, though not by yourself, it is still a win. What is important is the result, and absolutely all sides will benefit from the European integration.

Besides, the opposition cannot claim to be the only initiator of the Eurointegration idea. This is the idea of the whole political class of Ukraine, starting from Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko and including Viktor Yanukovych. It is the logic of history, and any intelligent politician, democrat or autocrat, cannot go against the history.

As a smart politician Yanukovych understands that Ukraine does not have much of a choice. Russia is not even an option, and the EU and Customs Union are not matching choices. Even if Yanukovych is not an ideological integrator, but rather practical one, the result is the same - Ukraine has an opportunity to take a solid step towards European future.

The other matter is that the opposition will have to change, will have to seek new and creative resources to be taken into account under new historical conditions. If they are rue politician they will manage to find a way, if not, well others will take their place. Tasks of the opposition do not include only criticizing. It is very comfortable for the opposition to have bad power, then the opposition always looks good, but if the authorities are good, the opposition cannot be just equally good, it must be smarter, more active and creative. It is easy to be good against the bad, but try vice versa. Try to look European with pro-European power. The opposition must meet this challenge and learn to act under new conditions.


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