Blog for Segodnya.ua
The NATO Summit in Warsaw and Brexit push Ukraine to explore the need to seriously adjust its foreign policy strategy. The world as we know it, is changing rapidly, the EU and the global security architecture are being transformed. Today we need precision in estimates of what is going on as well as timely and modern decisions. We need a new Ukraine, in which national pragmatism will take the place of the post-revolutionary romanticism and ideology that shape the rankings in our international relations now.
WARSAW SUMMIT ECHO
What does NATO mean to Ukraine today? What does Ukraine mean to NATO today? The NATO Summit in Warsaw that ended recently provided some broad answers to these questions. In many ways it was a milestone both for the Alliance and for the entire European continent.
NATO will strengthen its Eastern perimeter providing additional military and political guarantees to its member states. The Alliance will expand and deepen cooperation with partner countries supporting them in the modernization of the defense sector. At the same time the NATO Summit declared its readiness for a political dialogue with Russia aimed at removing tensions and strengthening security in Europe.
In a broad context the decisions of the Warsaw Summit mean that the continent will form new security architecture, in which NATO would play a key role. Forms of participation of other nations in this architecture will be the subject of future discussions.
Ukraine needs to make up its mind in this new situation. Our broad cooperation with the Alliance will obviously be essential for us, especially in such issues as increasing our defense capacity, effectiveness and quality of our armed forces. NATO is ready to provide Ukraine with a comprehensive package of assistance for the promotion and implementation of strategic policy reforms in more than 40 areas.
On the other hand, in the wake of the Warsaw Summit it is perfectly clear that Ukraine should not expect full membership in the Alliance in the near future. Neither NATO, nor Ukraine are ready for this. And it’s not only about the Donbas or Russia's position. The Alliance will not accept a semi-corrupt nation with poor population, patchy reforms (including the defense sector), and an unstable political situation. The nation, where membership in paramilitary groups is a form of public legitimacy, and where one can easily buy an AK-47 for $ 200 on the black market. Ukraine is yet to achieve “the NATO standards.”
Ukraine still has work to do to establish law and order and implement reforms. This has been repeatedly emphasized both at the Warsaw Summit and during the recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Ukraine.
This means that in relations with NATO Ukraine needs to look for new meanings for interaction. Their foundation should be the formula of our participation in the new security architecture in Europe and at the same time the maximum protection of our national interests.
In other words, Ukraine must stop begging for membership, which is impossible today, but which is – in the logic of a number of Ukrainian political forces – the panacea for all our ills. It's time to take responsibility by offering the world our contribution to the solution of the problem, which splits the continent. It's time to make some plans using the win-win approach with our international partners. Kyiv needs to find a new and more effective stance in the peace process (mostly through the implementation of the Minsk agreements and their derivatives) and help relieve the growing tension on the continent preventing the rollback to the dividing lines of the Cold War era.
We need to do it as soon as possible and in the most resolute manner, because otherwise the risks to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will only grow deepening the crisis in the economy. If we end up on one of the dividing lines becoming the frontier of Cold War-2, it will prevent us from realizing our transit and industrial potential; luring investment into the country will be an even more difficult task.
After Brexit the European Union will enter a period of significant transformation and internal reforms. Ukraine will have to adapt to this new reality, but this, despite all the drama, opens up new opportunities for us.
Today we need to form a new policy of relations with the renewed EU built under the slogan of national pragmatism.
The scarce EU quotas for Ukrainian goods, the failure of dreams of European romanticists of multibillion investments, the hackneyed story of visa-free travel and the Dutch referendum were eye-opening events for many, and not only in the Ukrainian society and business community, but hopefully also in government offices.
Today the need to adjust Ukraine’s position is becoming obvious. Based on the new reality, we need to become part of a Europe-wide order, seek participation in European regional development programs, modernization of our economy and industry.
Let me quote some numbers as an example. Between 2014 and 2020 the EU earmarked for various programs of national and regional development for Poland - € 85 billion, for the Czech Republic - € 24 billion, for Hungary - € 25 billion, for Lithuania - € 8.4 billion. At the stage of convergence Poland received under various EU programs to support the Polish economy the equivalent of nearly $ 20 billion over several years. A similar program, in the case of Ukraine, can become a key driver of our economy. In fact, this may be a prototype of the Marshall Plan for Ukraine.
It is clear that the EU is not willing to expand, and yet there are opportunities for Ukraine. Again, it depends on the success in establishing peace in the country. State parties to the Geneva process and the Normandy process repeatedly declared readiness to provide donor funds for the implementation of a ”Marshall Plan” for Ukraine and the implementation of recovery programs in war-torn areas.
Based on the new reality, Ukraine needs to develop a pragmatic plan of mutually beneficial cooperation with the key European nations: Germany, France, Sweden and Poland.
Ukraine needs a professional and accurate plan to build a dialogue with the UK and the Netherlands, because solutions to the current issues – both in the EU and in Ukraine – largely depend on the positions of these two nations.
We must build a new dialogue with groups of partner countries and with individual nations based on the philosophy of national pragmatism. Ukraine needs to make some real steps to strengthen relations with our closest European neighbors. Cooperation with countries in Central and Eastern Europe as a foreign policy priority will allow us to grow trade, especially with the Visegrad Four, which in 2015 reached almost $ 9 (8.7) billion. With the active cooperation, this figure, as well as the flow of FDI in Ukraine's economy, which so far is at the level of $ 1.5 billion, can double.
Mutual investment, trade, industrial cooperation will open up business opportunities for Ukraine to attract long-term investments in promising sectors of the national economy: natural resources and energy, agriculture, transport, infrastructure and logistics.
We can and should discuss with our partners the expansion of export quotas for Ukrainian goods to the European market, especially in agriculture, chemical and metallurgic industries. It is time to resume the discussion on the terms and timing of bringing the national production standards in compliance with the EU requirements. It is reasonable to raise the question about the EU preferences, which were once provided to associate member states in the Balkans, the Baltics, and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
All of these new challenges Europe is facing may become an effective impetus to Ukraine’s development and reform. The only condition is pragmatism and professionalism in protecting our national interests, clear planning based on the principle of mutual benefit in the dialogue with our partners. Only such a pragmatic and consistent approach will convert Ukrainian hopes for a European future from romantic dreams into the new EU reality, which is currently being shaped.