Foreign Policy

Decade after Bucharest Summit: Has Ukraine become closer to NATO?

ICPS Press

Ten years ago, when the world was completely different, NATO adopted a Summit Declaration in Bucharest, where paragraph 23 referred to the postponement of the MAP for Ukraine. All the traditional protocol norms followed, and diplomatic formulas voiced. In Ukraine, which, as in the past, as now, covered by predilection passions, the news caused a mixed reaction. Someone upset, considering the security vacuum to be an invitation to Russian influence. Someone liked — the reputation of NATO in Ukraine was not so brilliant as it is today. Politicians, in its turn, were thinking of how to play a NATO card in the elections that were once again promised to be fateful.

Today, Ukraine again wants to enter NATO speaks about the MAP and is preparing for the elections again. Some mistakes of a decade ago will be made again. However, the conditions for repeating those mistakes are much more rigid. Is Ukraine closer to NATO today than it was ten years ago?  Probably not. Because when we are running to NATO, we are moving away from it, there are three main reasons: international, Ukrainian and Russian. Correct mark of the weight of each of them will help to avoid simplifications, disappointments and false decisions. International factors that complicate Ukraine's move to NATO are out of our control, have a long-term impact and are not a subject to rapid change. In 2008, the life of the aspirant country (as it is now fashionable to call) was compare simple and easy: to do a “homework” – it means, turn the country into a true democracy; and make sure the key member states of NATO, that you will bring more benefits than troubles.

International security, particularly in Europe, was comparatively strong: frozen conflicts such as Transnistria were one of the most serious problems. Russia's politics was not entirely understandable, but predictable. Institutes and security mechanisms in Europe were still working. A few months after Bucharest Summit, the situation changed with the developments of the Russian-Georgian war in August. There is a widespread thought that Russia's aggression against Georgia, as well as later against Ukraine, was a consequence of the failure to provide the MAP to both countries in Bucharest. The question is how reasonable this opinion can be.

The MAP does not extend to the country in which it provides, the Alliance's security guarantees, and in the case of aggression, it remains alone. Would Russia's aggression be accelerated, delayed or blocked by another solution in Bucharest is a speculative issue.
We did not manage the simple tasks for aspirant of a decade ago – and this is the main reason for slowdown on the path to NATO, as it was and is now. Today, we repeat the mistakes of the past, believing that the more loud and hard we knock at the NATO door, the sooner it will be opened.  

Ten years ago, they knocked through the “letter of three” – signed by the President Victor   Yushchenko, the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the Speaker Yatsenyuk, who had to prove the unity of Ukrainian politicians who were not usually favorable to her. Today they are knocking through changes to the legislation, both those that have already taken place and possible constitutional ones. Now there are also many talks about the referendum.
Interestingly, the argument with a referendum will only work for the Russian audience. There is still a belief that NATO has been expanding against the will of the population of the new member states of Eastern Europe, to confirm exactly what they refer to without referendums. NATO is not argued by referendums.

It is unlikely, that now anyone is in doubt that most Ukrainians would like to get under the protection of the Alliance and resolve all their problems in such an uncomplicated way. But NATO is not interested in the desire of Ukrainians, but they are concerned with common interests.
A wide field of these common interests appears in cases where neighboring countries can become democratic and effective. Democracy for NATO is an operational code and a trust saver, not beautiful slogans. Unfortunately, for Ukraine, on the contrary. A warning that without a strong democracy and a rule of law, joining NATO will not happen – is rhetoric but pragmatic demands.

In 2008, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Ukraine in the ranking of the Democracies of the World on the 53rd place in a group of Democracies with Disabilities. In 2017, we were – for the version of the same edition – on 83 place in the group of hybrid regimes. If more democracy means being closer to NATO, what does Ukraine's current position in the ranking of democratic states mean?     

Of course, Russia's factor plays its part, and it does not play a role in Ukraine's prospects for NATO. Russia's aggression undermined our security, ruined regional security, undermining the credibility of institutions and states. We argue the Europeans of the seriousness of the Russian threat and for them, too, but they hardly see the solution to this problem through Ukraine's accession to NATO.
 It is crucial for NATO to maintain unity and effectiveness, and this requires maintaining the Alliance's credibility. The hypothetical membership of Ukraine will, in case of Russia's further aggression, have too complex dilemmas in front of each member state. Although it is often believed that the Russian war in Ukraine pushes Kyiv to NATO, this is true only as far as public opinion concerned.
 The existence of an open conflict and high probability of its escalation inhibits our movement to NATO, and to other possible coalitions, as it multiplies the number of risks associated with Ukraine.

  Ten years ago on the desire of Ukraine to MAP played international stability strong support of Washington and a much better situation inside the country. Today it is possible to try to play on the public opinion of Ukrainians and the exploitation of the threat from Moscow. Passion of simple decisions makes the international situation of Ukraine more and more complex, and does not look like, that the prospects of NATO membership are an exception to this trend.


Publications with tag «Foreign Policy»
Foreign Policy

Statement of the Verkhovna Rada and Strategic Partnership with Poland

The words of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the future of the Baltic-Black Sea Arc, said immediately after the parliament's adoption of the statement, a reaction to the Polish law on the Institute of National Remembrance, sounded either as bullying or as a complete misunderstanding of the challenges and elections facing Ukraine today. The case has long ceased to be relevant to the analysis of the historical details of the Polish-Ukrainian relations. Today we are talking about the choice of paradigms for further development, both in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe. And only Ukrainian deputies seem to think that talking about European integration to accompany the play of the national map and the deterioration of relations with its western neighbors is quite normal. You can search for whoever started the first one as long as you like. In this case, it does not matter. What should be worrying us - not today, but several years ago, when we decided to actively build our own national identity on the basis of ethnic symbolism, this is the consequences of such elections for neighbors. It was easy for them to foresee, it was enough to get a superficial look at the history of the region of the past two centuries. It was obvious that all the problematic language-historical components of relations with neighbors would be touched upon. What further this will create the demand for national rhetoric already within these states. And what kind of rhetoric will encourage politicians to re-think their position on Ukraine. But we did not think about it, did it, seemingly simple and good things - restored historical justice, forgetting that it is everyone's own. The Poles adopted their law in totally different conditions than those in which we respond to it. They are members of the EU and NATO, they do not need to prove their European character. They do not need Ukrainian help either. For them, the pendulum bias toward national rhetoric is no more than a conjunctural phenomenon, although even in the strict framework of European democracy, it can lead to a lower level of democracy. We are a country where eight years have passed the so-called "Hybrid mode", which is not a hybrid war, but a lack of democracy - we risk losing too much in terms of both internal and external perspectives. Similar steps Parliament - knowingly or not - creates an environment more conducive to the concentration of power, the effect of "dancing around the flag" - in short, all that we criticize the regime in Russia so emotionally and rationally. The statement adopted by the Verkhovna Rada to a certain extent reflects not only the lack of understanding of long-term consequences, but also the detachment of ideas about current affairs in our foreign policy from realities. The phrase that "... the incitement of conflicts between traditionally friendly Ukrainian and Polish peoples lies in the interests of the common enemies of our statehood and sovereignty ..." can be imagined in the work of a good-school student, but not in an official document, which by itself, without any involvement of the common enemies, creates the basis for a crisis in relations between peoples, which is unclear for what is immediately called "traditionally friendly". Is not it possible to in-depth study of the circumstances of such friendship and institute of national memory in both countries? It is possible then to study and traditionally friendly relations of the period of the national liberation war of the Ukrainian people, incidentally and there finding the Kremlin's hand. Simple, intimate and frankly inaccurate characteristics of the parliament, it is unclear for what, brings the problem to the slogans and empty rhetoric, which is long gone. The mantra about Ukraine, which saves the entire world, including Poland, from Russian aggression, is no longer perceived seriously by anyone, except for individual deputies. Referring to the "spirit of strategic partnership between Ukraine and Poland", you need to understand where this partnership is present, and where only our imaginations are present. "Strategic partnership", which we are accustomed to cover foreign policy failures at bilateral level, has been fixed more than once forever. The content of the partnership, even if it is called "strategic", is changing. It is, exactly, and determined at moments that are similar to today's. The good consequences of the populists' initiative of the parliament, driven before the elections in a deadlock, can not wait. Perhaps someone will vote for a deputy, but Ukraine will pay for such a step further weakening of support from Poland. Options for such a relaxation are many. We depend on Poland's position in key issues for national security - rapprochement with NATO, deepening of relations with the EU, preservation of the regime of anti-Russian sanctions. We have almost no levers of influence on the Polish position; and today we have done everything to strengthen anti-Ukrainian sentiments in Polish society. Conversations about Ukraine's European integration will also look like either bullying or a complete misunderstanding of international and political realities. Mykola Kapitonenko, ICPS Associate Expert    

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors: from problems to solutions

A tangible deterioration in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors has become one of the most important outcomes and challenges of 2017. The acute reaction in neighboring countries to certain historical or linguistic issues, which were not the subject for serious discussions within the country, became a surprise not only for the general public, but also for a part of the political establishment, which believed, Ukraine's support on the international arena from Hungary and Poland is in the asset by a definition. A problem of the Neighborhood Policy became the subject of a thorough study “What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors?” prepared by the International Center for Policy Studies, which was presented during a round table discussion organized at the end of the last year. And today, during an expert discussion on the invitation of the Institute of International Relations and Trade (Budapest, Hungary), the ICPS team is presenting ideas on how to get out of the deadlock and find solutions to the current problems. According to ICPS experts, crisis phenomena in Ukraine in relations with its western border neighbors first of all, is in a certain crisis of both Ukrainian foreign policy identity in general, and Neighborhood Policy in particular. In the last case, such a crisis is conditioned by an insufficient attention to the development of relations with western neighbors in past years, the lack of a systematic analysis of the internal situation in neighboring countries, their positions and interests in regional cooperation. There is also a lack of a well-developed regional policy of Ukraine and a policy of developing partnership with each of the neighboring countries, in particular with the involvement of all state power bodies, business and interested representatives of civil society as well as expert community. It is important to understand, Western neighbors should be seen as our partners, and the national minorities should become an advantage of Neighborhood Policy in Ukraine, not a problem. The dialogue with Ukrainian national minorities, together with the minorities of neighboring states should be intensified. They should be perceived as connectors, bridging neighboring countries, as important channels of communication and cooperation. Dialogue and consultation with minorities should be conducted primarily through positive action, avoiding steps that can be taken as a mitigation of the role of languages. In particular, it should be noted that Article 7 of the Law on Education is a serious, but nevertheless, not a non-negotiable challenge for friendly relations with neighboring countries. In particular, ICPS experts consider the necessary steps to be taken to restart relations with its neighboring countries: - Adoption of a new concept of Ukraine's foreign policy; - Development of a new Neighborhood Policy; - Depolitization of humanitarian issues; - Strengthening economic cooperation; - Cross-border cooperation; - Setting up cultural diplomacy. Therefore, further dialogue on the format of relations should be based on a mutually beneficial approach and a positive atmosphere of discussion, more attention should be paid to a strengthening possible cooperation options. Also, during the expert discussion, the Ukrainian and Hungarian sides stressed on the need for enhanced interaction and communication at the expert level, as there is a lack of objective information on current events in Ukraine and Hungary. Such dissonance, in its turn, may lead to false conclusions and interpretations and negatively affect a quality of bilateral dialogue. In order to solve this problem, the International Center for Policy Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine) and the Institute for International Relations and Trade (Budapest, Hungary) agreed on further cooperation and effective communication.

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Round table discussion “What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors?”

On the 20th of December 2017, in Kyiv InterCintinental conference hall was held an expert round table “What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors?”, organized by the International Center for Policy Studies along with the Ukrainian Association of Foreign Policy. The purpose of the event was to discuss possible ways of stabilizing Ukraine's bilateral relations with its western neighbors. Yevhen Yaroshenko, ICPS Senior Analyst, mentioned that the crisis in relations with its neighbors on the western border of Ukraine reflects the current crisis of both Ukrainian foreign policy identity in general, and Ukrainian “Neighborhood Policy” in particular. “This crisis is conditioned by the insufficient attention to the development of relations with the western neighbors during last years, the lack of a systematic analysis of the internal situation in neighboring countries. One of the key challenges facing Ukrainian foreign policy today is an urgent analysis of the status of relations with neighboring countries and the development of recommendations that would prevent them from further deterioration and, ideally, would help to resolve the problem and practical implementation of the bilateral partnership as soon as possible”, - says Yaroshenko. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Hungary (1992-1997, 2006-2010) Dmitry Tkach, emphasized that there are currently several experts in Ukraine, who are investigating Ukrainian-Hungarian relations and who should be involved in the discussion of the Neighborhood Policy . “Ukraine should initiate a meeting of the Ukrainian-Hungarian Commission on the issues of ensuring the rights of national minorities, which was last held in 2011”, the diplomat stressed. Director of the International Relations Center Mykola Kapitonenko noted that the problems of Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors have rather complex nature. “This is determined by the level of global security, the level of Ukrainian-Russian contradictions, regional and internal political levels. Central and Eastern European countries have more selfish interests, and the mechanisms of regional interaction are weak. Under such systematic conditions, Ukraine has to pay a much higher price for its weakness”, says Kapitonenko. 

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Theresa May’s Florence Speech: the Key Changes in the UK’s position on Brexit?

Official Brussels and London return to negotiations on Brexit process amid a recent stalemate. Theresa May addressed the British press pack in Florence on Sep 22, 2017 in a bid to gain momentum in the Brexit talks. The city of Florence was chosen because of its location in the heart of Europe and known for its history of trade and finance. The Florence speech itself was seen as an attempt to kick-start the stalling talks  and was largely a symbolic gesture rather than an outline of policy, verbatim, given that May went to Florence in friendship rather than adversity. It was this thinking which could been illustrated through the tone, content and notions employed through the speech of British PM. In her speech, British PM Theresa May tried to set out a picture of a post-Brexit UK. Some key concessions had been ceded through this speech. May outlined her proposal for a transition plan, of which would be over two years (till March 2019), in order to succeed in key agreements, to support business and to offer a degree of stability of families between Britain and mainland Europe. However, a transition plan will also allow May and her government to formulate an implementation plan and their aims and objectives. The parallel talks, as supported by Brexit Secretary David Davis, which had been an area of disagreement between the UK and EU have been dumped in favour of a sequencing of talks – an agreement on dates, priorities and organisation. A major concession which came out of the Florence speech was the acceptance of any law the EU agrees to regarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK. EU citizens arriving into the UK after March 2019 will be subject to a registration system. May has rejected the ‘Canadian model’ for further relationship with the EU, which was previously mooted as a possibility, in favour of a ‘bespoke model’  - a model, which considers the cooperation of Britain with Europe. She has also rejected the idea of a post-Brexit Britain becoming tax-haven, akin to the Northern-Hemisphere/ Hong Kong. That said, David Davis has confirmed that the European Court of Justice will no longer have a mandate over the UK, instead a new system will be formed to deal with the intermediate differences between the UK and EU.  Furthering the notion of cooperation as carried by the rhetoric “Shared History, Shared Challenges, Shared Future”, May alluded to the possibility of a treaty being drafted which would concern deeper cooperation between Britain and her European counterparts in the field of security. She called for a bold, new security pact with the EU and post-Brexit UK considering the UK’s role in European security as vital as never before. In addition, Britain will pay into joint projects involving science and education, whilst also paying to accept the freedom of labour. The speech has been criticised for lacking substance, however, it could be argued that this speech maintained a sensible negotiating stance, leaving the EU space to advance upon its preconditions. Therefore, although the past week of Brexit negotiations was described by both sides as ‘warm and constructive’, still no sufficient progress has been made necessary to move to next phase of Brexit talks.     Iryna Ivashko, ICPS senior analyst, Cameron Gibson, ICPS visiting expert                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Ukraine-EU Summit: the beginning of uncertainty

On July 12-13, 2017 Ukraine-EU Summit was held in Kyiv with participation of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk. The parties discussed implementation of the Association Agreement, visa regime, reforms and combating corruption in Ukraine, the Russian aggression and the like. At the same time, this summit did not produce a joint statement via contradiction around phrases about "European aspirations" of Ukraine. However, the friendly rhetoric of the summit overshadows the beginning of the crisis in relations between Kyiv and Brussels. Absence of the joint declaration shows that the EU is not yet ready for further rapprochement to Ukraine. On the one hand, the slow pace of reforms and fight against corruption reduces the interest of Brussels to deepening of cooperation with our state. On the other hand, Ukraine has established a foothold among the secondary issues of the EU policy due to  Brexit, migration, terrorism, financial problems and other priorities. In addition, euroskeptic and populist forces, despite the recent defeat at the polls in the Netherlands and France, will continue to play a prominent role in the political life of many countries. As a consequence, European aspirations of Ukraine and other countries neighboring the EU will give rise to ultra-right politicians harshly criticizing their governments and institutions in Brussels. Without further rapprochement with the EU, Ukraine will not have sufficient incentives to continue reforms and fight corruption. The main engine of political and economic transformation in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe was the prospect of EU membership. In the case of Ukraine, these "gingerbread" was the Association Agreement, deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) and visa-free regime, which many citizens and politicians mistakenly considered to be an intermediate step to EU membership. From now on "soft power" of the EU towards Ukraine is limited to financial support in conducting reforms and sanctions against Russia. It is obvious that the potential of such tools is not enough to ensure the irreversibility of the course of reforms and fight against corruption. Thus, this Ukraine – EU summit will be the beginning of uncertainty about the future of bilateral relations. The ability of Brussels to offer attractive initiative for Ukraine will depend on the continuation of reforms in Ukraine, progress in the fight against corruption, the preservation of democratic achievements and loyalty of Ukrainian citizens to the European idea and values.

Yevgeniy Yaroshenko