EU Woos Ukraine's New President

KIEV, Ukraine -- When Victor Yanukovych officially took over the president’s office on Feb. 25 almost right away, the European Parliament decided to give Ukraine a chance to apply for E.U. membership.

Political analysts are speculating that Brussels made the offer as a preemptive move because of Yanukovych’s clear orientation toward Russia. The EU does not want Ukraine to join the existing free-trade agreement between Russia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan.

Hints about his pro-Russia stance were in his inauguration speech last Thursday in which he said that he was going to introduce to Parliament an initiative to become a “nonaligned” state.

Opposition parliamentarians are against the proposal.

“Now Ukraine will be viewed as a country of the third order because we ourselves are claiming that we would be a grey zone; we would be a bridge between NATO and Russia,” said Christian Democratic Party representative, Volodymyr Stretovych.

“In actuality, when such a thing is declared—it means that Ukraine does not want to be a member of the European Union,” said Vice Prime Minister Hryhoriy Nemyria, in political commentary program on TV Inter.

However, Petro Poroshenko, foreign affairs minister, said on the same program that he already had a meeting with the president where they talked about EU membership. According to Poroshenko, Yanukovych does support joining the Union.

Poroshenko says that officials need to start speaking in one voice outside the country.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek told The Epoch Times that they would expect Ukraine to implement reforms around which opponents and supporters could join together.

“Then the coordination between the EU and Ukraine will be easy,” he said.

“Political balance is very important in any country,” Buzek added.

Further developments are expected this coming week when Yanukovych travels to both Brussels and Moscow.

Precisely what will be discussed is not clear, but with Brussels it is expected that to speed up Ukraine’s integration into the EU, talks will include introducing a simplified visa regime.

In the meantime, the Parliament plans to raise the issue of EU membership on Tuesday to give the president a clear signal on what further steps to take.

Source: The Epoch Times