Minsk Agreement funeral

Today, the 2 of September, the assassinated leader of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko (42) will be lying in state, and the Minsk Agreements are buried together with him.

If, before the assassination many commentators would say, there was no alternative to  ‘Minsk‘, and they were the only road map we had to end  the bloodshed in Eastern Europe, after the terrorist act taking away life of a man, who believed in negotiated peace with Kiev, the Agreement died, because the trust in good will of Ukrainian authorities was definitely killed.

After the explosion in cafe, which took lives of Zakharchenko and his two bodyguards there is no one left in Donetsk who cherishes the illusion of Kiev’s intentions to reintegrate the breakaway Russian-speaking region through the negotiations.

A son on a coal-miner, Zakharchenko was widely appreciated for his integrity and believe in the success of Donetsk Republic independence. As  a soldier he fought against Ukrainian nationalism, defending Donbass people identity. “I’m speechless. Blessed be his memory…”, write Twitter micro blog users. “Heroes don’t die“,  echo the others. “He will go on forever!“. Unfortunately, we can not say the same about the Minsk Agreements. The bomb explosion in the center of Donetsk took live of its leader and trust in ‘Minsk‘. The local media reports readiness to counter-attacks, repelling Kiev troops. War hawks win again. Hoc est bellum – this is war…

EU foreign policy drama

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With flows of migrants from Libyan cost, the EU Southern Neighbourhood, ravaged by Islamic terrorists, and the defrozen conflict in the EU Eastern Neighbourhood with tanks moving along the vicinities in Donetsk, the EU foreign affairs Council, 6.2.2017,  finds itself in the worst situation in years, if not in decades, since the Balkan war.

Both problems have one element in common: the active involvement of the EU in shaping of the future of the neighbouring countries. The zeal of the implementation of the Neighbourhood policy in Ukraine led to the break of pro-European and pro-Russian populations, while the overthrowing of the Libyan ‘tyrant’ caused a turmoil on a half of the African continent.
Due to the EU efforts Libya from a donor became an acceptor, requesting funds to keep the flows of migrants on its coasts. 200 000 euro of taxpayers money were pledged to UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), while the destiny of Colonel Gaddafi’s fortune of 200 000 billion, as reported shortly before his assassination, remains obscure. However,  even if donated as agreed the major question remains if there are structures and institutions able of the implementation of the programme to improve the conditions of migrants, and fight against the smugglers.
GNA hardly controls Tripoli, where recently an explosion next to Italian reopened Embassy brought into focus grave security concerns for corps diplomatique, already shuttered by the tragic death of US Ambassador Stevens.
The EU mission on its page still calls it an ‘exiting’ time:
“It is an exciting time to be in Libya as the country is seeking its path towards democracy and stability. Just over two years ago (! -av), the Libyan people showed to the world that popular will could prevail over a ruthless dictatorship. For their courage and determination, Libyans gained the admiration of the whole world”, – although unlike Italians they prefer to watch if from the safe distance of ‘Prestige Business Center Bloc’ in Tunis.
Obviously impossible to compare ravaged by jihadists Libya with the  ‘Anti-terrorist operation’ (ATO) of President Poroshenko in Ukraine, the latest active fighting at the front line in Avdeevka, next to Donetsk endangered Minsk agreements, showing the fragility of the situation there and a huge ambition of Kiev’s leadership to conclude ATO, even at cost of the devastation of once wealthy industrial region of coal-mining.
Till present on contrary to the EU expectations the prolonged restrictive measures against Russia have not delivered an expected result to force Kremlin to abandon its support to two self-proclaimed Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.
However the sanctions have an effect of the European agricultural sector and business, suffering losses as the result of this policy: the rise of the anti-EU forces in old member states is too obvious to ignore even for myopic bureaucrats of the European external action service, risking to lose their jobs soon, while the European nations demand referendums on EU membership from their governments, profoundly unsatisfied with the impact of  EU foreign policies on their lives.

Dutch Parliament to decide EU future of Ukraine

 

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The awaited decision on the fate of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is now at the hands of the Dutch Parliament. The European Council stated that they ‘noted carefully’ the   referendum outcome in The Netherlands, however following the existing legal procedures the Agreement has to be endorsed/adopted by all 28 member states according to national relevant procedures. In case one of the states denies the ratification, the entire Agreement dissolves.

The debate and vote in Dutch Parliament will take place before the election on 15th March 2017.

‘The European Council notes that the Decision set out in the Annex is legally binding on the 28 Member States of the European Union, and may be amended or repealed only by common accord of their Heads of State or Government. It will take effect once the Kingdom of the Netherlands has ratified the agreement and the Union has concluded it. Should this not be the case, the Decision will cease to exist’  (Source: European Council Conclusions on Ukraine 15 December 2016, Brussels).

EU-Ukraine: simply in limbo

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The atmosphere at the EU-Ukraine Summit press-conference was between dull and gloomy, the presidents looked mostly down in their papers, the regular wooden language clichés on democracy and solidarity were distributed generously, probably in attempt to disguise a poor outcome.
President Petro Poroshenko goes back home almost empty handed: one can’t consider 15 million euro for an anti-corruption project and 104 euro for public administration as a big deal for a 43 million strong population of Ukraine (for comparison Georgia received at donor’s conference one billion euro).
However the financial aid for Ukraine is not on the table for the EU in crisis and serious economic problems of Mediterranean member-states criticizing austerity policy.
The visa-free regime would be a absolute maximum the EU can grant to Ukraine for good ‘home-work’ in promotion of reforms and good governance. But it is only a theory.
In spite of promises of the EU’ presidents #Tusk and #Juncker to conclude the issue by the end of the year, it is a clear understanding at the institutional back-stage that granting visa-free for 43 millions Ukrainians will mean a opulent gift to Eurosceptics.
Neither at the moment of Maidan revolution, no today the EU has a plan of an integration of such a big country into the block.
The galloping enlargement policy, neglecting Copenhagen criteria, already bore bitter fruit: the UK voted #Brexit largely in disagreement of a perspective of authoritarian Turkey to join the EU.
The negative outcome of the Dutch referendum on Association agreement with Ukraine  showed the state of mind in one of the key countries of the Union, awaiting the general elections in March. The agreement of visa-free to Ukrainians, notorious for its endemic corruption with the similar to Nigeria index, would push the votes in democratic countries flee the Union, becoming just an assembly of countries based on geographic, but not values orientated principle.
Giving a eulogy to European Parliament’s president Socialist Martin Schulz, President Poroshenko just aggravated a sentiment of a foul game, going on
behind closed doors of European institutions making arrangement with third parties without the EU cititzens’ consent. It is up to the European Parliament to give an approval to visa liberalization until the end of this year,  and certainly  it’s president has influence to exercise.
Taking into consideration Schulz’ decision to leave the EP, the visa-free for Ukrainians might be his last contribution to what he calls ‘the biggest civilization project of the past centuries’. A helping hand to president Poroshenko, and also to Eurosceptics Geet Wilders and Marine Le Pen in coming elections in The Netherlands and France, not least Schulz’ compatriot AfD’s Frauke Petry, whose stakes are also at raise.
Surely it is possible to liberalize the visa regime for Ukrainians until the end of this year, in a certain way it will even facilitate the prediction of the national elections outcome next year. No polls needed. Anyway they didn’t show to be accurate so far.

#Ukraine Independence Parade

Ukraine parade

In quarter of a century of Independence Ukraine -”Nezalezhna’ – lost almost all of its USSR opulent heritage: the powerful industry, agricultural exports to Russia, the rich provinces attached to Ukrainian Soviet Republic by whims of Communists, and even the position of a reliable transit country for Russian gas to Europe, – pathetic record for a society, notorious for its bipolar modus vivendi from extremes of endemic corruption to revolution.
However none of the coloured revolutions brought much desired effect, but degrading the living standards of the population to African level with the minimum salary of 1450 hrivna (USD58) similar to Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
Exhausted from struggle for power between clans of oligarchs, and de facto civil war in Donbass, claiming its independence, the  Ukrainian population in vain has been looking up to Brussels – although inspiring Maidan, eurocrats did not have any plan for integration of 43 million populated state then, neither do they have it now. Taken aback by it’s own problems as a result of the departure of one of the top contributors to its budget, and overburdened by tsunami of migrants, the EU has no desire to invest in Ukraine, unable to fight its corruption. The appeals for European generosity became an instant part of Kiev’s diplomats monotone repertoire, blaming Russia for all the failures.
Amid the intense campaigning  for rapprochement with the EU, a verdict fall down unexpectedly in a form of the Dutch referendum, when citizens refused to endorse the Association agreement with Ukraine, creating a tangible obstacle on the imaginary Ukrainian trajectory to European family of nations.

Celebrating Independence by parading infantry, navy and air force, rattling sabre of eroded by corruption army, unwanted in the East and the West, where are you marching, Ukraine?..