Ukraine seeking orientation Evgeny Feldman
Euromaidan protests in Kiev

After the planned association agreement between the European Union and the Ukraine failed, people are still demonstrating on the streets in Kiev. Apparently the Ukrainian government and its people are veering towards different directions. President Viktor Yanukovych seems to fancy more with Russian visions of a collaborated costumes union instead of a political and economic approach towards the EU. Now a delegation shall travel to Brussels to discuss again about aspects of the treaty.

People fighting on the streets, demanding the resignation of Yanukovych and holding up flags of the European Union – the citizens of Ukraine are demonstrating against the attitude of their government relating the association agreement with the EU. On 28 and 29 November 2013 the free trade association should have been signed at the Summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius. But the Ukrainian parliament burst the signing of the agreement only a few days before the meeting.

Terms and conditions of the association agreement

Kiev and Brussels already agreed in 2011 about the terms and conditions of an Association Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement, which would help bring Ukraine economically and politically closer to the EU. Two years ago though the EU criticized the status of democracy and constitutional legality as well as the guarantee of human rights.  As a condition the Ukraine had to improve those lacks, especially the aspect of the selective procedure of the judiciary. In fact there is one special case the EU isn’t willing to accept: The condemnation of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011. The politician is a severe opponent for Yanukovych and would candidate for the presidential elections in 2015 - wouldn’t she have been put into jail because of the pretended misuse of power. Brussels strongly criticized the judgment as a politically motivated judgment. In the last months the EU claimed for amnesty of Tymoshenko and for exit permission so she could get medical help in a European hospital. Tymoshenko came down with a herniated disk during her arrest.

Failure of the association agreement and consequences

Seven days before the Summit of Eastern Partnership and the had planned inking of the agreement the Ukrainian parliament voted if a law should be ratified which would have provided an exit permission for Tymoshenko. But the parliament voted against the ratification and as a conclusion against the association agreement. Politicians of the opposition demanded the resignation of President Yanukovych but without any response. Based on the decision of the parliament the association agreement conditions weren’t complied and therefore the contract burst.

Not only opposite politicians increased their pressure on the recent government after the parliament decision, the failed contract had also enormous consequences for domestic politics. Hundreds of thousands Pro-Europe-Protestors beleaguer public buildings, riots between the police and protestors happen every day. 

The demonstrations and the pressure by opposite politicians forced Yanukovych to give in a wee bit: He asked the EU for permission to send a delegation under the leadership of first deputy Prime Minister Serhij Arbusow to Brussels to restart discussions about the agreement conditions. However the EU-Commission clarified that it might be possible to debate about single aspects, though the conditions by themselves will stay.

Russian threats

Already during the negotiations between the EU and Ukraine about the planned association agreement Kiev was under considerable strain of Moscow. Russia threatens the Ukraine with economic restrictions if they sign the association agreement. Instead Ukraine is urged to join the costumes union between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.  Right now it seems that Moscow has won but the association agreement isn’t yet off the stove. EU-Countries criticize strongly the Russians pressuring agents, Germanys Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that the Russian line of action is “unacceptable”. Also the circumstances between Moscow and Brussels seem to be stricken, both are interested in a stronger economic relationship with Kiev and both accuse each other to exert too much pressure on the Ukrainian government.


(Written and translated from the original German by Laura Zwerger)

Orginal article: Zwischen den Stühlen - Die Zukunft der Ukraine 
Photo credits: Evgeny Feldman via Wikimedia Commons