There are 200 rivers in Ukraine. Ukrainians learnt to build bridges in ancient times and this experience comes in handy in the process of European integration.
The Association Agreement is far from being a bridge between Ukraine and the European Union but is merely supports for its construction and full-fledged functioning. The supports, it must be emphasized, are quite high strength to avoid any doubts in the mutual interest of Kyiv and Brussels. The Association Agreement is not accidentally considered to be an unprecedented document in its scope.
There are a lot of problems between Ukraine and the EU today, which cannot be solved immediately. After the signing if the Association Agreement the situation will only start changing. It must be understood and taken into account in the context of a possible breach in the dam of the European skepticism next year. Frankly speaking, Russia will be stimulating and supporting this process by all means. The situation in Ukraine resembles an election campaign where the rivaling parties are competing for the signature or the derangement of the EU Association Agreement. It will not be easy for the Ukrainian authorities to withstand in 2014-2015 under the pressure of skeptics; they will need assistance on the part of the European Union.
The matter is not only the finances; Ukraine has learnt to economize and to manage its budget for that matter. After the Association Agreement signature symbolic gestures will be more important, demonstrating that the European Union has not lost interest in us. Perhaps, the most effective one would be the simplification of the visa system. It does not require huge financial expenditures but is capable of altering the perception of the EU in Ukraine. Europe should not be afraid of an influx of Ukrainian immigrants: many of those interested found a job with a different level of legality as far back as several years ago. Besides, two thirds of Ukrainians do not have a foreign passport; by and large, we are a nation of isolationists. That is why turning the EU and Ukraine into communicating vessels is worth a lot.
A reliable decking must be installed on the supports created by the Association Agreement. Its key component is the implementation of the European Union norms, occasionally pains-taking. Ukrainian officials will have to learn to defend national interests in the negotiations with EU, meanwhile, moving to Ukraine’s full membership in the Union. To be honest, it is a long way, but one who will be treading on it will cope with it.
A dialogue with new EU members can seriously strengthen Kyiv’s positions. The states of Central Europe, Baltic, Croatia and Slovenia in Balkans can share their experience of European integration with our country, and help it avoid mistakes finding optimal algorithms to solve common problems. Hopefully, European freshmen clearly understand to what extent Ukraine joining the EU as a full member can strengthen their group.
The most important thing for Ukraine now is likely to understand the inevitability of encountering difficulties and keep on moving forward. A civilized choice has never been easy for any state; and our country will not be an exception. It has decided to build a bridge across to Europe and is obliged to act in the European manner, finishing what it has started.