With the decision of the European Council made on 15 December 2023, Ukraine was provided the opportunity to open accession negotiations with the European Union. With this act, as Ukraine has moved closer to a dream, the European Union has moved further away from its own basic principles and fundamental values. What is a glorious victory for Ukraine could easily become a total failure for the EU.
Given the common understanding in Brussels that Ukrainians need to be given support, a clear path, a clear vision of their future, the EU approved the launch of accession negotiations with Ukraine. This vision – a European perspective – is, of course, more attractive than the one that the agressor Russia could offer to Ukraine. It’s easy to admit that in the midst of a Russian invasion, saying ’no’ to the ’Russian World’ is the only reasonable choice for Ukrainians. However, this is just one side of the coin.
Before naming the other side of the coin, it’s important to note that Ukrainian people shouldn’t be blamed for anything. Just like European citizens, they are also victims of politics. They have been misled by the Ukrainian government, just as European governments in most member states have misled their own citizens into believing that Ukraine’s place is in the European Union.
The other side of the ’Ukraine coin’ is that Ukraine’s not ready to open accession negotiations with the EU, nor was it ready to be granted candidate status in 2022. Yet both have been approved by the European Council.
Is this because Brussels doesn’t know the truth? The answer to this question is ’no’. Brussels is well aware of the truth about the situation in Ukraine, as it holds all the necessary information about the poor status of the Ukrainian economy, the high level of corruption, the failure of the reforms, the violations of minority rights, the lack of democracy and so on.
At a moment when the EU is about to open accession negotiations with a war-torn country with certain parts occupied by foreign troops, it would be crucial that blind enthusiasm for Ukraine be replaced by the truth about Ukraine.
Firts of all, governments should admit to their citizens the truth not only about the situation in Ukraine but also about the wrong path they chose almost two years ago when they agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons ’as long as needed’ and to impose sanctions against Russia to keep its economic under siege, until final victory. Sooner or later, the dropping of the ’Truth about Ukraine!’ bomb is inevitable.
However, considering the nature of European politics, there is little chance of this happening. Therefore, it would be essential for European citizens to pay more attention to the relevant words of some prominent Ukrainian politicians. It should be immediately added that ascertaining the truth or even getting closer to the truth isn’t easy at all.
In recent months, the truth about Ukraine has repeatedly tried to break the surface. The truth has been shown not only through particular statements of senior Ukrainian officials but also in evaluation reports on Ukraine by the EU and the U.S. Here are a couple of examples.
- The interview with the Ukrainian Army Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhnyy in The Economist in September contributed to a clearer understanding of the situation on the battlefield. Zaluzhnyy was very clear saying that the situation has reached a stalemate.
- In October 2023, a U.S. report was obtained by POLITICO which analysed the situation in Ukraine from the point of view of corruption. This report concluded that corruption totally pervades the Ukrainian state, from the lowest to the highest levels.
- Also in last autumn, an internal note of the Council of the EU was leaked to the Financial Times. The authors of the document explained that a predominantly agricultural Ukraine’s EU membership would totally upset the existing system of European farming subsidies. As Ukraine would receive most of the funding, some other countries would have to become net contributors. Experts believe that French, Dutch and Polish farmers – the current main beneficiaries of the EU’s agricultural aid – will definitely lose out when Ukraine joins the EU.
- Economic recovery of Ukraine requires the return of 4.5 million of Ukrainian citizens to the devastated Ukraine as potential employees, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine Yulia Svyrydenko said in an interview with Forbes in November 2023, adding that satisfying the needs of the frontlines is the priority of Ukraine’s economy that is financed by Western aid. Investments in Ukraine exist only at the level of announcements; to talk about the implementation of international reconstruction projects is ill-timed, she explained.
The truth about Ukraine can clearly be drawn from these small sniplets of information which is that Ukraine doesn’t meet the criteria for launching accession negotiations, and will not be able to develop its economy to the level that would be expected of an EU candidate country, not to mention the fact that Ukraine’s legal system is not in line with the European legislation and Ukraine faces unresolvable social problems. To bring Ukraine up to the European level would take all the money from the cohesion funds – the greatest losers of such a change would most likely be the Central and Eastern European member states.
It can’t remain unnoticed that pro-Ukrainian governments don’t emphasise these facts at all, but rather hide them. It’s unclear whether this is because they don’t consider these pieces of information important enough or because they are deliberately concealing the facts from their voters.
So, why the big rush on behalf of the EU to open accession negotiations with Ukraine? Where does this mad rush lead? The EU has never skipped accession criteria for the sake of a candidate. Yet this is what is actually happening in the case of Ukraine: Brussels makes exceptions at the expense of the member states, while withholds crucial information from Europeans that could influence their personal views.
What Europe and Europeans really need is a devastating but cleansing ’Truth about Ukraine!’ bomb.