By Valentyna Hlushak
July 27th marked one month since Ukraine signed the EU Association Agreement.
This agreement is crucial to Ukraine, and is much more than just a signature on paper. It symbolizes the future that Ukrainians chose for themselves-- in this case, the European Union. However, people are now concerned and puzzled as to why there is a delay with the agreement’s ratification. They want to know why President O. Poroshenko is postponing ratification.
How does an international agreement come into effect?
The Association Agreement becomes effective when it is ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in addition to the European Parliament and all EU member states. At present the Parliaments of Romania, Lithuania and Latvia already ratified it.
Was there any progress made with ratification of the agreement?
There are several reasons why the Deal has not been ratified yet. To answer these questions and other issues regarding Ukrainian foreign policy, Hromadske TV invited the Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin to its studio just this past week.
Klimkin explained that Ukrainian goods and services exported to the EU currently are not charged customs fees, whereas imports from the EU to Ukraine are taxed. This stage will continue until the Ukrainian Parliament ratifies the Association agreement. Therefore, Ukraine doesn't need to rush to put an end to this transitional time which, according to Mr. Klimkin, has some advantages for Ukraine. For example, this arrangement helps Kyiv financially. Although, it will not fix the damage done to its economy by Poroshenko’s predecessor, but will provide a small degree of relief for the struggling economy. Furthermore, this time enables Ukrainian producers to prepare for modernizing their business in accordance with standards set by European markets. This unique opportunity will expire once the Ukrainian Parliament ratifies the Trade Deal.
Mr. Klimkin also wanted to assure the Ukrainian people that the EU Association agreement remains the priority for the government and it will be ratified in the short term, in accordance with the President’s position. Personally Mr. Klimkin thinks that ratification should not take place “next day or next week.” The reasonable time should be a month or so.
The foreign minister also noted that Ukraine would not have issues with the ratification of the EU Treaty, but it will have challenges with its implementation. Mr. Klimkin highlighted the importance of continued tri-lateral discussions, including Ukraine, the EU and the Eurasian Council. He emphasized that for Ukraine it is important to continue negotiations especially with its neighbors, for instance, about implementation of new Customs declarations.
Lastly, the minister stressed the fact that the text of the Association Agreement is not negotiable according to president's order. As at the beginning of September, Ukraine will continue consultations with Russia regarding technical aspects of the deal and its implementation, but the text of agreement will remain untouched.
So What Happens Next?
According to UNIA, a Ukrainian news agency, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine finished with preparation of all documents necessary for ratification of the EU Association Agreement on July 24th 2014. Within a few days, these documents will be sent to the president for further submission to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. (UNIAN)
Channel5.UA reports that the president’s administration expects to complete the whole process of ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union before September.
The president sees this transitional time as an opportunity for its government to prepare a national plan for the implementation of the EU Agreement that he will be able to present to the EU members for review.
The last six months have not been an easy time for Ukraine, but the president and his administration are doing all in their power to have the EU Association agreement ratified as soon as possible. It is important that the general public and Parliament of Ukraine stay patient and work together. The Deal remains the priority for the president in addition to the as stability and security of the country.
Valentyna Hlushak, a native Ukrainian, moved to New York 7 years ago. Her main areas of interest are conflict prevention, politics and governance; places of interests – Europe, Russia, U.S.A./North America. She obtained her B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College, NY and M.A. in International Relations and Translation from Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine. In addition to Ukranian, Valentyna is fluent in English and Russian.