Zelensky hoodwinks EU
A 2,000-word joint statement issued after a summit between top officials of Ukraine and the European Union “encompassed a broad range of issues of common interest, including the importance of a continued commitment from the Ukrainian government to reform the judiciary, foster development of a civil society and support press liberties,” adding: “We agreed that cooperation and EU assistance in these areas should be intensified.”
That bland declaration came out after an Oct. 7, 2003 summit, when Leonid Kuchma was president and Italy, then led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, held the rotating EU presidency. Kuchma, of course, had no interest in any of that reform stuff.
The similarities to the Oct. 6, 2020, statement — and everyone in between these 17 years, really — are striking. This from the most recent get together in Brussels, the 22nd summit:
“We recognized the substantial progress made by Ukraine in its reform process and agreed on the need to further accelerate these efforts… We agreed on the importance of accelerating and reinforcing reform efforts, in particular on the judiciary and in the fight against corruption, ensuring strong and independent anti-corruption institutions. We welcomed the renewed commitment of Ukraine to fight the influence of vested interests (“de-oligarchization”). In this regard, we underlined the need to further strengthen media pluralism in Ukraine.”
What bullshit. Either President Volodymyr Zelensky hoodwinked the EU, just as Kuchma and every other president has done, or the EU just didn’t want to offend anyone or doesn’t care. Reality: Judicial reform and, with it, rule of law, are dead. Anti-corruption institutions remain under attack.
After Brussels, Zelensky went on to London for more misguided praise.
Longtime Ukraine analyst Timothy Ash said it best this week when he called the de-oligarchization reference “particularly galling.”
“It is staggering that the U.K. and the EU is throwing in the towel on holding Zelensky to account for backtracking on reform, the anti-corruption agenda, and reining in oligarchs. The message seems to be fine if oligarchs take back control of the country. The game plan is we don’t actually care as long as you continue to provide a buffer against Russian aggression. All this shows zero understanding of what is actually happening in Ukraine at present — or the U.K. and EU no longer really care.”
Swedish economist Anders Aslund also astutely observed that there is “little prospect of greater international investment or economic growth without serious reforms” that Zelensky shows no signs of pursuing.
Zelensky wrote: “We do not expect cast-iron EU membership commitments. What we do want is a clear plan, produced together with our European partners, that offers a step-by-step guide to making this happen as soon as possible.”
The plan has existed all along. Zelensky just has to execute it. It’s called building democracy and not backsliding, as he is doing now, squandering a beautiful mandate handed to him by the Ukrainian people only last year.