Read the original text at euroitegration.com.ua.
Sometimes Ukrainians are just overwhelmed with negative emotions about the European Union. The most frequent reason is delay in granting visa-free regime. Last week, it was doubled with a controversial decision of the European Council on the ratification of the Association Agreement. Few weeks ago, Ukrainians were astonished by the alleged requirement of Brussels "to conduct deforestation of the Carpathian area in exchange for a soft loan." Although few people have tried to understand what this actually meant.
All these things happen against the backdrop of Brexit, the growing popularity of Eurosceptic movements in several countries. Even Poland, our long-term "European lawyer" and a clear example of the European benefits, is dropping to an all-time low, to something evil and dangerous.
Apparently, bursts of resentment, a sense of betrayal or skepticism concerning the EU would not disappear. Sometimes there are even too much reasons to be upset and frustrated. But we must be cautious and very prudent when drawing conclusions.
We should understand certain things.
Some circles are interested in undermining the credibility to the EU; they radically distort its image and weight in the eyes of the average Ukrainian. First of all, these are Russia and its agents, with their far-reaching geopolitical considerations.
The Kremlin is playing a multimove game. There is no doubt that Putin has ever given up his plans sooner or later to resume his status quo with regard to Ukraine. Ukraine’s disappointment in the EU works in Moscow’s favor.
So Ukraine’s Opposition bloc, Medvedchuk, and other elements of Kremlin’s networks in Ukraine do their best to help Putin. Requirements to cancel the free trade agreement with the EU, renew visa control for its citizens, and other provocations would appear in the discourse of ordinary Ukrainians, who suffer from alleged humiliation of the European Union.
Undermining the credibility to the EU might be also beneficial for many Ukrainian politicians. Most likely, relations of the official Kyiv and the EU would sooner or later reach a crisis point. The point is deepening reforms in Ukraine, which is required by the EU, and what is financially unprofitable or simply dangerous for the ruling clans.
Nothing new: the paths of the Ukrainian "elite" and the West have been differed for a long time.
The current splash of Brussels positive public discourse from Brussels to concerning official Kyiv, such as at the last Association Agreement Council, must not double-cross us. The behavior of Ukraine’s "elite" would not change after Brussels complements not change; it is trying to convert positions and political influence into profits.
And if the position of the EU is less important for the Ukrainians, the authorities might reasonable ignore the demands of the European colleagues (from a political point of view). Conversely, ignore the requirements of the EU is very problematic when the popularity of Poroshenko reaches some 14%, and the EU’s - 60%.
So, there are lots of those who would like to speculate on the EU or its issues.
"Nobody remembers that the purpose of Maidan was not the visa-free regime with Europe, but membership in the EU."
"The news of the cancellation of the deforestation moratorium in exchange for visa-free regime have seriously shook the whole of Ukraine."
"Europe is dead as a community. Unfortunately, we do not have a leader like Erdogan, who would do everything for his country."
These are real quotes from Facebook comments. I must admit that this nonsense is quite common within the society. Perhaps, our expression of emotion and criticism could be justified, but we do not have any right for hysteria. It is important to be realistic and pragmatic. And, in general, is not difficult.
We can criticize the absurd story of the Dutch referendum on the Association Agreement and the recent political decision of the EU to resolve this situation. At the same time, the Agreement is a useful and strategically indispensable. Thanks to it, dozens of laws on European integration have been already taken and a series of reforms have been launched, trade with the EU has increased.
Some members of the European Union are really willing to lift the sanctions against Russia, and we do not like it. Nevertheless, the EU has extended sanctions to the end of July 2017.
We have every right to criticize the delays with granting of visa-free regime - but we must not forget about a number of implementing important reforms, necessary for cancelling visa.
The EU is actually facing difficult internal processes that can cause skepticism or foggy feeling towards its nearest future. But the Ukrainians had to be the last ones who would lick their lips. Evidently, if Ukraine wants to live in a truly European state. I am convinced that without the EU it would unlikely do it.
The set of relationships and certain mechanisms proscribed in the Association Agreement show a way to a better life, integration into the European civilizational space.
Today we have no other choice. There is no as powerful international ally, as the EU, which have consistently assisted Ukraine on its way to freedom.
Ukraine’s European integration, European integration, crisis of Europe, the European Union, reforms in Ukraine, EU assistance to Ukraine, corruption in Ukraine, Eurosceptic, visa-free regime, visa Ukraine