Experts discuss how Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia would fit into the EU and the best ways for these countries to pursue EU membership in the future through reform and strategy.
Kyiv, July 25, 2016. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are not ready to apply for EU membership at present. Similarly, the European Union has a very different agenda. Instead of further expansion, they discuss the refugee crisis, threat of terrorism, referendums in the Netherlands on Ukraine and the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. Therefore, the three countries have to change the approach to European integration processes. This was stated by Leonid Litra, senior analyst of the Institute of World Policy, at a discussion held by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “In such circumstances, it is necessary to focus on domestic reforms, on the implementation of the Association Agreement, and then, at the opportune moment, apply for the EU membership. Now we have to focus on ourselves and not look for excuses or examples. We should not just talk but do real things in order to make discussions about the prospect of membership not “toxic” and take very concrete steps for practical achievements,” said Mr. Litra. He called to stop using the rhetoric that “the ball is on the side of the EU,” because it is Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia who must demonstrate their success in reforms. According to him, the main hindrance is that the elites of the three countries are not ready for deep reforms, because it is not profitable. Another threat is the agenda of Russia, which wants to control all important system changes in the relationships between the Eastern Partnership and the EU. “The EU is less ready to conduct transition processes in the countries [Eastern Partnership]. It is ready to stabilize these countries, not to transform them. But the policy of “not to annoy” Russia does not work: it becomes even more aggressive in the region. The EU must change its policy and begin implementing its goals in the region,” said Mr. Litra.
Ivane Chkhikvadze, Eurointegration programs manager, Open Society Foundation (Georgia), said that Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia should work together to realize the opportunity to submit a joint application for the EU membership. “We are talking about European integration, not membership. But one does not exclude the other. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia should work together in this direction,” he noted. Mr. Chkhikvadze gave some tips for European integration. “When a country submits [an application] for membership, it receives a questionnaire in order to make the position of the country clear. We can now take this questionnaire and see where we are and what we have to do to meet these criteria. It is also necessary to establish a body, or entrust the existing one, to conduct this analysis and monitor the progress. We should talk with the EU about the benefits it will receive from our membership. In addition, we ought to find an advocate country, which would protect the interests of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in the EU,” said the expert.