In anticipation of the event, Tibor Szanyi, a Vice-Chair of Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, gave an exclusive comment to 112.International on consequences of the upcoming Dutch referendum (April 6, 2016), European neighborhood policy and advantages of FTA for Ukrainian business.
Against the background of a modest progress on reforms, numerous accusations of corruption and the total collapse of ruling coalition Ukrainian leaders such as Yulia Tymoshenko (MP, Leader of the Batkivshchyna), Petro Poroshenko (President of Ukraine), insist on rebooting the government, and setting technocrat executives. Will it help not only to stabilize situation but to improve situation for Ukraine. What’s your opinion and evaluation on future of Ukrainian governmental authorities?
As much as we can see from the European parliament side, we do believe that the security stability is what Ukraine needs. We are always trying to support all those forces having the same targets - the security and, on the other hand – stability. Of course, stability is a manyfold issue. But under the political stability as such, there should be a strong government with whom European institutions could cooperate, especially in the longer run. There are quite a few challenges around the Association Agreement with Ukraine. An upcoming Dutch referendum, which is, in my mind, quite dangerous, may also pull out another brick from the wall of stability in Ukraine, because a failure around the Dutch referendum would mean perhaps Putin’s warning: “Look, Ukraine, Europe doesn’t want you”.
As we can see through our contacts with the Verkhovna Rada, you made quite a few encouraging steps in terms of European integration. Of course there are evergreen stories like a corruption, we do believe that corruption exists everywhere in the world, to some extent it may vary, but it’s a human thing. There is always the question – What specific government is doing against it?
We see that the Ukrainian political forces are setting up new institutions, new frameworks, etc. And this is really encouraging. We believe that these frameworks may result in diminishing the level of corruption. But it’s not only about corruption, it’s about economic stability, on the other hand, and this is why I’m quite happy about it. Regardless of the result of the Dutch referendum. The trade part of the business is going to be untouched. That’s already signed, since this is a sole competence of the European commission. Consequently, no referendum may affect it. So in economic terms, we are already in the safe side and there is a relevant economic cooperative framework. I do see that everybody in the EP is working towards that direction and don’t really see any real appearance of the radical philosophy in the context between EP and Ukraine.
This is the general approach from Europe. Otherwise, it’s a will of Ukrainian people – whom they want to see, whom they don’t want.
Taking in mind all the problems that the EU is facing right now (like the terrorist attacks, migrants). What is your opinion, is Ukraine still on the agenda or not?
Very much so. The next week is the week of the big happenings, that’s the Ukrainian week in the EP. I can tell it that obviously we considered Ukrainian relationships also in the relationships with Russia. But, again, at this moment the EP is on the stand-point that every party has to fulfill Minsk agreement. The relationships with Russia are also the greatest part of neighborhood policy. And neighborhood policy with security questions for Europe is really on the top of agenda. So Ukraine is one of the top stories constantly in the EP.
How would you evaluate the implementation of Ukraine-EU free trade agreement? Who scores advantage so far – Ukraine or EU? Even now, in Ukraine a lot of people are scared of the FTA because the huge businesses from Europe might be too powerful and our businesses can’t compete with it..
Well, I understand those worries, but according to the historic attitude of EP those agreements are normally asymmetric which means that intendedly gives more favor to the external (in this case to the Ukrainian side) side than to the EU side, but that’s true, that’s capitalism, on the other hand, the better one wins.
Obviously, if Ukrainian companies feel themselves weak, and they believe that European companies are strong, it’s really up to Ukraine to make any kind of framework in which they believe they can be more efficient. I think that the role of the Chambers (Parliament) is definitive. If you believe that your companies are going to compete, one way or the other, that’s not true. I mean, Chambers have to be behind them for support. On the other hand, you are going to have always a big advantage in your market, seeing that Ukrainian side know the legal framework better that the external one. And that’s the trick. Ukraine has to have quite a strong economic strategy and internal cooperation. A strong legal back office is a must, to be at the safe side.
But normally whatever happens, it’s not due to the agreement but it’s due to the nature of market economies.