Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 30.08.2017
Juncker: Ukraine not ‘European’ in the sense of the European Union; we should think about better relations with Russia
Jean-Claude Juncker made a sharp U-turn on European integration yesterday. Speaking to the Conference of EU Ambassadors on August 29, the President of the European Commission said: “I saw that my friend Poroshenko said a few days ago: ‘Here is Ukraine, it is the European Union and it is NATO.’ It is not, for the moment, either. This must be known to everyone.” He also distanced himself from the view that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a war in Europe when he said: “At the moment we've got 60 wars ongoing in the world, 60 – and none in Europe if I disregard Ukraine, which is not 'European' in the sense of the European Union.”
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has never said Ukraine is the EU or is NATO. Here’s what he has said. Speaking during Independence Day celebrations on August 24, Poroshenko said: “This is the only road we have: a wide Euro-Atlantic highway which leads us to EU and NATO membership.” Speaking at the 50th anniversary of the World Congress of Ukrainians on August 26, Poroshenko said: “Ukraine will meet the criteria necessary to apply for membership [in the EU and NATO]. We will continue moving on our European and Euro-Atlantic path.”
President Poroshenko’s remarks are in keeping with European Union policy, as expressed from the 2006 beginning of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement: as a European country, Ukraine is a rightful aspirant to EU membership. They are also consistent with NATO’s 2008 policy that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance.
Why did Juncker mis-quote Poroshenko and mis-represent Russia’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine? He clearly wants to distance Ukraine from the EU and NATO. Juncker also wants to deny that – by doing practically nothing to stop Putin in Crimea and Donbas – he and the EU have allowed borders in Europe to change by violence for the first time since the Second World War. Europe is in a state of war, and Juncker will not bear the shame of it.
Ukraine is a worthy and eligible candidate for membership in the EU and in NATO right now, and Russia has invaded and is attacking the largest country that is wholly within Europe. Juncker doesn’t like this ‘realpolitik’ and so he retreats to the Russo-centric ‘ostpolitik’ that became moribund in 1991. Juncker recited the bromide: “I think we should think about better relations with Russia.” That sounds unobjectionable, but as John Cleese’s character Basil Fawlty said in the comedy TV show Fawlty Towers: “Don’t mention the war!”