2 Feb Georgia celebrates another win on the way to the abolition of visas in the EU.
Someone will say — “a small victory” because the decision does not mean the actual abolition of visas. Someone will answer — no, still more, because this is an important step, and bezviz can earn de facto in April.
But rejoicing for the friends of the Georgians, we can’t help but wonder: what about Ukraine?
Why the European Parliament has not considered simultaneously, and our bezviz? When should we expect the abolition of visas for Ukrainian citizens? And finally, did not leave us “in the tail of the queue” for an indefinite period?
“European Pravda” found out what kind of mood prevails in the EU and what agreements were reached on the Ukrainian question.
What keeps Ukraine?
In the article about the EU without mentioning the procedures just will not do. Even if the word is already stuffed mouth.
Last year, the “European Pravda” published a copy of joint decisions of the member countries of the EU on the Ukrainian and Georgian issues. It is in this paper is the explanation of why the decision by Georgia to the European Parliament approved earlier. As is known, Brussels has tied the abolition of visas to so-called “mechanism of suspension bezveze” (this will allow you to resume the visa regime for countries from where there is flow of migrants, or for those who have violated obligations in respect of the reforms).
But the details of this binding differ. Georgian bezviz then slowed down to negotiating the details of the mechanism of suspension, and Ukrainian — to its approval. The first event has occurred, the second — still to come, and so we have to wait.
However, it is worth noting: when the Europeans say that our bezviz keep only the procedure — do not believe. It’s not true. Actually we are talking about clean politics. In November last year an agreement was reached on the braking Ukrainian bizwise. After they had a chance to change the procedure to “revive” Ukrainian business, but in December the leading countries of the European Union left all “as is” and tentatively agreed on when it will be back to our question.
This “European truth” in the last two months have confirmed the interlocutors in the European institutions relevant to our question and the EC and the EU Council and the external action service and the European Parliament.
And if in Brussels this is recognized only “off the record”, the foreign Ministry of Ukraine is ready for a public confirmation. “The EU will always find a procedure, which can complicate the process. Unfortunately, it seems that this is happening,” — said, in particular, the Deputy Minister Elena zerkal in an interview with EuroPride.
Reference to the procedure was for the European Union a convenient excuse. Must recognize the fact that Ukraine artificially hold, it would be morally difficult and politically incorrect.
Especially in a situation where all involved know who is behind this political decision.
France around the head
In the last days of December, the Ambassador of France in Ukraine Isabelle Dumont denied the rumors that France is behind the delay of the Ukrainian bezveza, calling them “speculation, having no connection with reality.” Although a day earlier, the Deputy head of the presidential administration Konstantin Eliseev said that this is France.
Must admit that the truth in this matter — on the side of Eliseeva. Although Dumont sincerely claims that France is not blocking, and supports bezviz for Ukraine. So, now, not blocks. But at the root of our delay is Paris.
Details of how the French Embassy in Brussels tried to stop the decision to bezveze, we wrote in the report from the summit Ukraine-EU.
Since then, things have changed. In December, the largest EU member States gave the green light to our progress, but under one condition put forward by Paris: the Ukrainians should not enter the EU without visas until after the presidential elections in France.
The idea is that our bezviz no impact on the presidential campaign.
There is another important element of the agreement: no other elections, including the September in Germany, should not be a reason for further delay decision on Ukraine.
According to sources, this arrangement is a “gentlemen’s”, it is not recorded in official documents. However, the EU has to adhere to such internal agreements. Moreover, this agreement was approved at a high political level, after talks with Juncker, Merkel and Hollande and, after a heated debate between the EU institutions.
Unfortunately, during these discussions, the supporters of Ukraine in Brussels has not sought a review of the formula that before lobbied for a group of countries led by France that formal talks on the Ukrainian bezveze should begin only after the approval of the suspension mechanism.
So, now we have to wait. And happy for Georgia, not bound by such limitations.
So when finally?
To answer this question in one sentence is wrong. Recent months have proved that in the EU there are powerful opponents of the abolition of visas for Ukraine and, therefore, always should be considered and realistic, and pessimistic scenarios.
And also to consider how high the chances of negative developments.
First, on data sources. The interlocutors in the European Commission and the EU Council claim that the Ukrainian bezviz will be approved in late spring, and will work in summer. Most often is the assumption that in July, the Ukrainians will travel to the EU without visas. This, incidentally, about the same as for standard procedures. Except a little longer.
Recall, to unlock the Ukrainian bezveza EU should finally approve the “suspension mechanism”, which we have already mentioned. Now comes the translation, and then again translated document will submit for approval to the European Parliament, then it needs twice to consider the member countries of the EU at the ambassadorial level and at Ministerial level. Political obstacles will not be here, because the de facto decision is made, it is only necessary to legalize. According to estimates of insiders in Brussels, in total this procedure will take about a month — until the end of February. From myself I shall add: it may take a little longer.
In March you can expect at the beginning of TRIALOG in Ukraine (in the case of Georgia, it took only one day) in April — translation and document review in the European Parliament in may for approval by the EU Council. So — we leave in June as the commencement date bizwise.
And now about the risks.
Theoretically, this process can be slowed down at any point, but there are risky stages that are heard in Brussels.
One of them is a Trialogue, in which representatives of the European Parliament, EU Council and European Commission meet and negotiate about what will be the final text of the Ukrainian decisions. Interestingly, a substantial part of the solution is very simple. In Ukrainian language it sounds something like this: “1) Remove Ukraine from the list of visa countries. 2) to Include Ukraine in the list of visa-free”. It would seem that there is nothing to argue about; this is why the Georgian Trialogue has become only a formality.
But a clue could be to align the date with which will act Ukrainian bezviz, as well as the preamble of the decision stated, in particular, on the mechanism of suspension and on reforms in Ukraine.
We will pay particular attention to the last stage of political agreement in the EU Council, when the game again will enter France.
Bezveza approval by the EU Council will take place after the French election. At least after the first round. Will not stop if the new owner of the Elysee Palace the abolition of visas for Ukraine?
In our opinion no.
First, formally, the new President will not affect this process. Approval bezveza to be held at the level of Ministers of internal Affairs. The election of a new President does not mean change of the head of the interior Ministry.
Second, it is likely that approval bezveza will be held before the inauguration of the new leader of France.
Of course, in the current environment nothing is impossible to tell for sure, but it seems that this time we really in the homestretch.
And finally — on a new and somewhat unexpected one in Ukraine on this path. From several independent from each other sources “European truth” got the message that Malta’s presidency of the EU Council since the beginning of the year, was a sincere advocate of Ukraine bezveza and now really does a lot to promote our issue forward in the agenda.
That Malta forms the agenda of the EU Council, and therefore its help is difficult to overestimate.
And here it is impossible not to recall the events of three years ago.
In early December 2013, i.e. immediately after the start of Euromaidan, the then Ukrainian President Yanukovych was planning to visit Malta, but a couple of days before the visit had to cancel the trip. Then Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat warned through the media of Ukrainian guest that will carry him to a tough stance of the EU. The leader of the Maltese opposition Simon Busuttil was even more categorical. “I will meet with Yanukovych, to Express concern. But I refuse to jointly participate in the state dinner and the concert,” he wrote.
Then this unexpected gesture Maltese aroused the admiration of Ukrainians with regard to foreign policy. This year we have occasion again to say thank you the smallest country in the EU.
Sergey Sidorenko — editor of “the European truth”