On September 1, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union entered into full force. At the time, a non-signing of this document by Yanukovych had become a bone of contention that led to the coup d’état and the civil war in Ukraine.This document has changed the image of Ukraine in very sense: territorial, political, economic and moral ones.
Over the past three years, the Ukrainian authorities, as best it could, had been presenting the country’s aspiration to the European Union as the most cherished dream, giving it, especially at first, the most unrealistic components: European wage rates and social benefits, as well as all sorts of the ‘benefits of the European way of life’. Western values have been built into a cult, and respect for their roots, history and ancestors have been neutralized.
For today, a visa-free regime is the only thing that the power of Ukraine has so far been able to consider as one of its victories on the way to the EU, although the real possibility to take advantage of this ‘achievement’ is treated as a pipe dream by many citizens because of the banal lack of necessary funds to travel to Europe.
It is notable that the economic part of the agreement has been in effect since 2016, but the results have been more than modest by this time. According to the President of the Ukrainian Analytical Center Alexander Okhrimenko, exports of Ukrainian products to the EU declined by 7% compared to 2013. As the economist explained, Ukraine had been purchasing raw materials in the CIS countries until 2013 and, after reprocessing, supplied it to the EU. Now, it imports these products from Europe.
The people of Ukraine, especially those, who lose work in factories that are shut down because of the stagnation of the economy, are beginning to understand that the association with the EU is another Pyrrhic victory. In doing so, Poroshenko is happy to report: ʺThese are irreversible processes of integrating the Ukrainian economy into the EU market”, of course, without mentioning that it is essentially an irreversible degradation.
The residents of Donbass mentioned about the disadvantage for Ukraine of most of the points of Association Agreement with the EU in 2013, and when they were not heard – they dissociated themselves from these ‘European prospects’. But, unfortunately, the understanding that Donbass was right never came to the minds of the majority of Ukrainian citizens. In principle, it is understandable with this level of manipulation in the Ukrainian media. For the time being, they have successfully managed to divert the attention of the masses from pressing economic and social problems. But it cannot go on forever. And what the Ukrainian authorities can offer to their people except the hatred of the Republics and Russia when a euro populism bubble bursts?
Elena Melnick, the DPR People’s Council deputy