When the customs conflict broke out on the border between Ukraine and Russia many in Kyiv gossiped about why is it that our President keeps quiet? Where is Viktor Yanukovych? What kind of a silent game is it?
Yanukovych’s silence ended on 30 August. Having given an interview to four television channels, the President clearly articulated that we would revise the gas contracts with Russia anyway and the IMF requirements to raise utilities prices for people are unacceptable.
Also, having stepped on Putin’s pet peeve, Yanukovych emphasized that the cooperation with the Customs Union has started – in the «3+1» format, implying to say that Ukrainian representatives had joined the supervisory bodies of the Customs Union.
Taking into account numerous statements from the leaders of the Kremlin, that the «3+1» format is irrelevant, it is obvious that Yanukovych meant, “Further integration with Russia is impossible.” Although he specified by that that official Kyiv could join some provisions of the Customs Union but exclusively those provisions which do not contradict the requirements of the World Trade Organization.
However, the main message voiced by the head of the Ukrainian state is the vector of European integration of our country. “We have now decided and for that passed the law in 2010 which defines the basics of our foreign policy. This is European integration…Autumn this year will put a period. We will meet all requirements. I have not the least doubts about that,” the Ukrainian President cut short.
Yanukovysh is said to have taken such a position just after the last conflict with Russia. Now he does not like being forced into something! And Russia’s actions do not smell but stink of blackmail. Yanukovych could not have put up with that and – made a choice.
Of course, the Association Agreement is far from the EU membership. Let’s remember, for example, Turkey. But even in the case of Turkey it is clear that the EU Association gives colossal mid- and long-term advantages – unlike the Customs Union, secretly aimed at strengthening Russian industrial corporations, and not more than that.
And Yanukovych specifically emphasized that the question of Ukraine’s full-blown membership would be submitted for a national referendum. This, by the way, again confirms his adherence to the European decision making norms. As the source of power in any democratically developing country is its people – and only people can decide what life they want to keep living.
But it is still a long, long time until the referendum. And so far the lot has been cast.
Sure, there is obviously one more important factor upon which European politicians and bureaucrats carry on insisting – the release of the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko sentenced for abuse of office while signing in 2009 the gas contracts with her associate Vladimir Putin.
And, most likely, as informed people say, Tymoshenko’s fate is also decided. She is most probably to be pardoned and released for the medical treatment in Germany.
Obviously, for Viktor Yanukovych aiming for his second presidency, it bears certain political risks – Tymoshenko being free will try to unfold a large-scale counter campaign exposing by hook or by crook real and false blunders of the ruling party.
But, with my hand on my heart, I will say: what difference will those exposures make against the background of unavoidable Ukraine’s integration to the European area? Yes, difficult integration, in places – painful. But it is unavoidable and in perspective – finite.
Will it not be a much more weighty argument for us, Ukrainian citizens, than Yulia Tymoshenko’s propagandistic exhortations? Of course, it will. The more so because Tymoshenko herself is far from being saint and a martyr. There is something to remember and tell the whole world about her as well.
But I hope it will not come to washing dirty linen as the argument “We have managed to sign the Association Agreement, which Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were not able to do” will make the people in central and western Ukraine much more loyal with regard to Yanukovych. There is no better propaganda than large-scale accomplishments.
And the EU Association Agreement will have become the most large-scale accomplishment in the history of modern Ukraine since the introduction of the hryvnia. The most important now for Yanukovych is not to show weakness in the dialogue with the Kremlin masters. Because of all people they definitely can play on weaknesses and contradictions, intriguing and intimidating. The centuries-old Byzantine tradition reveals itself undestroyed but intensified by almost 75 years of communism.
However, no perfidy can shatter a man who has made a final an irreversible decision. I hope and believe that exactly such is Viktor Yanukovych’s decision.