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The European Union and Ukraine

The European Union and Ukraine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Adam Reichardt, The National Interest, Sept. 26, 2013

It is hard to believe that the election and events that set into motion Ukraine’s Orange Revolution took place nearly nine years ago. The scenes of young Ukrainians camping out on Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), demanding that their voice be heard and the will of the people not be ignored, was a moment which many believed was not only an awakening for Ukraine, but also a significant change in the whole of the former Soviet Union. One of the largest of the former Soviet states (excluding Russia) had finally begun to make its first strides towards Europe.

The energy and hope that arose out of the Orange Revolution was one of the main drivers behind a movement to bring a final end to the already tattered Iron Curtain. This initiative, which was launched in 2009 under the leadership of Sweden and Poland, became known as the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The goal was to create conditions that would enable greater political association and further economic integration between the European Union and the partnership countries. The belief then was that this project would speed up democratic, economic, institutional and civil-society reforms to bring these states closer to Europe. Membership in the Eastern Partnership was opened to the remaining “European” states that were once members of the Soviet Union—Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia further emphasized the need to create a stronger engagement with these countries, especially if they have aspirations to join the European community…

…The biggest Elephant in the East remains Ukraine, the largest of these countries. For both Europe and Russia, Ukraine is still considered to be the big prize. With a population of over forty-five million people (more than its western neighbor Poland) Ukraine’s potential as a consumer society is quite large. Opening up European markets to Ukraine and vice versa could be potentially a game-changer in the Eastern European region. A large section of Ukraine’s population is Russian-speaking, which can be advantageous to European companies who want to eventually do more business in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union… (more)