EU foreign ministers have approved a mandate for talks with Kiev on a wide-ranging fresh cooperation pact. But this meant resolving differences on how to treat Ukraine’s EU membership hopes first. The ex-Soviet state borders four countries of the European Union, now. France and other countries where public opinion is prickly towards further EU enlargement wanted a damper on Ukrainian aspirations.
And so, the German EU Presidency produced a note to add to the talks mandate: “A new enhanced agreement shall not pre-judge any possible future developments in EU-Ukraine relations,” it said. According to Brussels, this was a very positive signal for Kiev. A possible free trade deal and energy ties will be part of the negotiations.
Orange revolutionaries who re-oriented Ukraine’s political horizon more westward at the end of 2004 can count on encouragement from Poland, Hungary, Britain and Sweden. But others, with France, Spain and Germany, clearly want a line drawn: Good neighbourly relations yes – becoming EU house-mates no.