• Klitschko (r) showed Kozhara photos of police throwing molotov cocktails and firing shotguns at crowds (Photo: securityconference.de)

EU commissioner calls for Ukraine accession promise

01.02.14 @ 23:54

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

MUNICH - The EU commissioner who, over the past five years, tried and failed to get Ukraine to sign up to pro-EU reforms has said only the promise of accession can change former Soviet states.

“If we are serious about helping this part of Europe to transform, the association agreement is only the first step. The next one should be the light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t transform this part of Europe without using this most powerful instrument [enlargement],” former Czech diplomat Stefan Fuele told a congress of European and US security chiefs in Munich on Saturday (2 February).

Romanian President Traian Basescu backed him up.

“You can’t just invite them to associate with the EU, but say: ‘Yes. But this does not guarantee you will ever get into the EU’,” he said also in Munich.

He noted the EU needs even more leverage than it did in, say, pre-EU Poland, because public opinion on the EU is split in former Soviet states such as Moldova or Ukraine.

“The EU needs to be more firm,” he said.

For his part, Vitaly Klitschko, a leading opposition MP in Ukraine, who also attended the Munich event, told press he felt “stronger” for the political support.

Munich delegates had earlier greeted his remarks with booming applause, when the former boxer said: “The protesters are on the streets with pro-European banners because they fear European values are dying in their country.”

They greeted remarks by Ukraine’s acting foreign minister, Leonid Kozhara, whose government is suspected of murders and torture, with silence.

Klitschko said that, in the short term, the opposition needs EU sanctions on Ukrainian officials to pressure them to call early elections.

“They enjoy European cars. They send their children to Europe to study. They receive medical treatment in Europe. They live in Europe, and this would be very painful - personal sanctions against people who violate human rights,” he noted.

He described their assets in EU banks as “blood money.”

Neither the promise of an EU perspective nor EU sanctions on President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration are a likely prospect for now.

Fuele instead offered that EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton could “facilitate” talks between the regime and the opposition.

Meanwhile, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US national security advisor, said the solution to the Ukraine crisis lies in Washington and Moscow as much as in Brussels or Kiev.

“The US and the Russian Federation have to talk to each other about this because the issue involves the larger dimension of European stability,” he told the Munich event.

He also urged the EU be more “assertive,” however.

Brzezinski noted that German President Joachim Gauck one day earlier had said Germany should assume a greater role in EU foreign and defence policy.

He called Gauck’s speech “remarkable.”

“This has a tangible meaning here [on Ukraine]. The EU’s conversation with Ukraine … will involve money,” he added.