|Author (Person)||Prokhorova, Elena|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.6, 14.2.02, p9|
UKRAINE fears being left 'out in the cold' when up to ten countries, including several of its neighbours, join the European Union in 2004.
Secretary of State for European Affairs Alexander Chaliy admitted this week that Kiev's relations with the EU could enter a 'grey area' of uncertainty unless Brussels takes the initiative now to signal a new spirit of cooperation with the country.
Although Ukraine's existing partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) with the Union is not due to expire until 2007, Chaliy argues that work on its replacement must start now and that its status should be upgraded to an 'association' agreement.
This is normally seen as the precursor to a country becoming a formal applicant to join the EU.
'Any new agreement or major strategy document will have to be ratified by 20 or more member states,' said Chaliy.
'This is a lengthy procedure, likely to take at least four years.
'If we want to ensure legal continuity, we need to have a new agreement replacing the current PCA already in place by 2004-2005,' he said.
The comments reflect a new mood in Ukraine. President Leonid Kuchma declared recently that his strategic goal is full integration into the EU.
But the country's slow pace of reforms and concerns over human rights abuses mean that is an unlikely prospect in the short term.
Nevertheless, Brussels has demonstrated that it wants to keep Kiev engaged in EU affairs.
Chaliy believes Ukraine's aim to become an associate member of the Union is realistic. He cites moderate enthusiasm expressed recently by Rome and Berlin and is cautiously optimistic about the cross-border implications of enlargement.
Whereas it can currently take travellers up to two hours to cross through the heavily-policed checkpoint on the Ukraine-Polish border, 'after Poland enforces the Schengen regime [post enlargement], the crossing should take hardly five minutes...provided we adopt the same professional culture which is typical for the present day German-Polish frontier', said Chaliy.
He added: 'If Ukraine makes serious headway in adjusting its own legislation and fighting cross-border crime, then it will legitimately expect to enjoy a most favoured regime status.'
The eventual winners are likely to be either the centre-right Our Ukraine party or the far-left Communists.
Ukraine fears being left 'out in the cold' when up to ten countries, including several of its nieghbours, join the European Union in 2004.
|Countries / Regions||Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine|