By Borys Humeniuk
IN 2014 the European Union and Ukraine signed an Association Agreement (AA) that constituted a new state in the development of EU-Ukraine contractual relations, aiming at political association and economic integration.
On October 29, 2015 the House of Representatives of Cyprus ratified it, it was signed by President Nicos Anastasiades, and published by the Official Gazette on November 06, 2015.
The AA provides for a shared commitment to a close and lasting relationship based on common European values, in particular full respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
What is important to know is that the AA includes provisions for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) which offers Ukraine a framework for modernising its trade relations and for economic development by the opening of markets via the progressive removal of customs tariffs and quotas, and by an extensive harmonisation of laws, norms and regulations in various trade-related sectors. This will also create new conditions to promote further mutually beneficial Ukraine-Cyprus economic relations.
As of July, 2016 Cyprus remains the biggest investor to the Ukrainian economy with USD$11.1 billion. In order to increase the figure, the Ukrainian government initiated reforms aimed at improvement of the investment climate in the country. At the same time, Ukraine invested USD$5.8 billion in Cyprus.
Ukraine-Cyprus bilateral trade relations showed steady trends in the first half of 2016. According to the state statistical service of Cyprus, the turnover of goods between our two states reached EUR€18.8 million which is EUR€4.9 million more than in 2015.
Potentially, the EU-Ukraine DCFTA will only improve these positive dynamics.
That is why Ukraine is very concerned about the uncertainty with the completion of ratification by the Netherlands of the EU-Ukraine AA, which places its future under threat.
We understand that the space for manoeuvre is quite narrow: strong anti-EU sentiment in Dutch society and around Europe, Brexit fallout, no clear vision of the future of EU-Russia relations. We also understand the risk-aversion attitude of the Dutch government in a run-up to the forthcoming national elections in March 2017. However, the failure of the AA will be a very strong blow to the all sides: Ukraine, the European Union and its Eastern Partnership initiative.
It is necessary to stress that possible failure of ratification of the EU-Ukraine AA might have not only negative economic but also security outcomes for the whole European continent.
One of the strategic aims of the hybrid war, which is being intensified by Russia on the Eastern Ukraine, is to discredit the European choice of the Ukrainian people. The stamps of Russian propaganda, which has already poisoned the conscience of millions of “ordinary people” in Russia as well as outside its borders, are trying to enforce thoughts that “nobody is waiting for Ukraine in Europe”, that “approaching to the EU will transform Ukraine to the raw colony of Brussels”, that “the happiness of the Ukrainian nation is possible only in union with Moscow”, which is actually could be seen during the many centuries as a well-known union of the horse and a horseman.
In order to understand better the sense of this “union” it is worth reminding undeniable statistical data: more than 6,000 regular Russian troops invaded the Ukrainian territory and occupied considerable part of Donbas.
Besides, the two military brigades were formed in the Eastern Ukraine consisting of 35,000 soldiers each under the leadership of the Russian military professionals. And the so-called soldiers are actually well-trained mercenaries and representatives of the local separatist movement.
They have 700 tanks, 1,200 infantry armoured vehicles, more than 1,000 artillery systems and 300 mortar units. How much more evidences do you need more in order to prove that Ukraine, which is doing everything possible today to implement fundamental social and economic reforms, is on the defence front of human and European values? Any deviation from the policy of solidarity with Ukraine in the field of economy, defence and security will threaten to the whole of Europe.
Borys Humeniuk is Ambassador of Ukraine to Cyprus