On December 4 Vitalii Klitschko had a bilateral meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been reelected for the seventh time the head of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), at the session of the CDU in Hanover. The Ukrainian politician underlined that the opposition democratic forces in the new parliament have one goal, to bring Ukraine back on the European path of development. Klitschko has also stressed the significance of differentiating the attitude to Ukraine from the attitude to Yanukovych’s regime.
On her side, Merkel stated that Europe expects Ukraine to make the steps which will bring the country closer to the European community.
The Day asked Berlin-based political scientist, member of the German-Ukrainian forum Alexander RAHR to comment on the meeting of the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leader of the UDAR Party Vitalii Klitschko behind the scenes of the CDU session and how on the whole the Ukrainian politician, who is well known in Germany as Iron Fist, is perceived on the whole in this country.
“The German press does not write that Klitschko attended the CDU session. Members of hundreds of parties that are close to Christian Democrats or aspire to get closer to the values of the Christian Democratic Party have been invited to this session. Therefore Ms. Merkel had several-minute conversations with these party representatives, maybe not all of them.
“Therefore I think it is good that Klitschko’s party aspires to become a conservative Christian democratic party in Ukraine, because there is no party of this kind yet. Maybe, Merkel’s party will be able to help Klitschko ideologically, not financially for sure, to create a similarly good conservative program for Ukraine.”
The UDAR Party’s website reads that during the meeting Klitschko told Merkel that on the one hand “European community today should draw a line between its attitude to Ukraine and its attitude to Yanukovych’s regime,” and on the other hand that “the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine is in a sense a program of reforming the key spheres of Ukraine’s life. So, it would be useful to sign it.” What can you say about that?
“This statement of the question is quite patriotic. Of course, Ukraine will sooner or later enter Europe. Another question is what the European Union will be like when Ukraine will join it. I think this will be a very long process and Ukraine won’t be able to enter the European Union as it is now. But the Association status will help Ukraine to show to its population that Europe, European Union, and economic cooperation with Europe continue to be its goals. And this Association will help Ukraine to change internally to meet the European values, European folkways, European life, and European democratic institutes. Therefore if Klitschko’s party has set an aim to support this direction, it is in the mainstream of Ukrainian politics, as the largest part of Ukrainian population supports it. In this respect his cooperation with Christian Democrats will be useful for Ukraine.”
Is not the fact that Europe does not differentiate between its attitude to Ukraine and its attitude to Yanukovych’s regime a problem for European integration?
“Even in the time of the Soviet Union, when there was a bipolar system, people said: there are Ukrainians, Russians, Georgians, Armenians who want to be free, and there is the evil government in the Kremlin which does not let them be free. But all these things are rhetoric. How can we cooperate? Some representatives of the youngest members of the European Union, in particular European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fuele from the Czech Republic, consider that one can carry out the policy of the European Union directly with the civil society, the institutes of civil society, bypassing the government. But I think that in practice such things are impossible to realize. Therefore this should be understood as a specific rhetoric, which comes from the same democratic moral values of the West that says: we stick to the stand of values and there won’t be any political dialogue with Ukraine until the government of Ukraine takes the same stand and values, as long as Yulia Tymoshenko is in jail.
“I think that the West won’t be able to keep to this position for a long time, it is hardly able to do so already. First, the West does not want Ukraine to turn away from the West completely and go back to Russia. And this threat is being considered by the West as a real one. Secondly, Yanukovych is carrying out the reforms. It is impossible to say he is doing nothing, and he is getting closer to the Association status step by step. The negotiations are being held, in spite of the difficulties in politics there is still a huge positive thing that they do not remain on the same place. The Association Agreement is practically ready, it only needs to be signed. Anyway, Ukraine has held the most honest and open elections in the post-Soviet space. We distinguish between rhetoric and Realpolitik, which is also present here.”
Klitschko quotes Merkel as saying: “Germany wants to see Ukraine in the European family and hopes that the Ukrainian government will fulfill its promises and that the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine will become reality.” In your opinion, what promises of the Ukrainian government does she mean?
“The word ‘promises’ is interesting indeed here. Ukraine promised to create democratic institutes and build democracy in the country on the whole. To some extent Ukraine has fulfilled its promises, and to some extent probably not. If Ukraine is facing any obstacles, the most significant one – even the only one – is Yulia Tymoshenko’s imprisonment. Rumor has it in Germany that Yanukovych promised Merkel that Tymoshenko would be released. And the chancellor personally wants her to be released. And on The Day Tymoshenko is released from the jail, she may be sent to Germany for treatment. Ms. Merkel personally offered to Yanukovych to accept Yulia Tymoshenko for treatment in Germany. And this is not because she wanted to spite Yanukovych, but in order to realize a humanitarian act concerning a person who is sick indeed. If it happens, the main obstacle on the way to sign the Association Agreement with Europe will be removed. Then one could sit at the table and sign the agreement and start being friends as if nothing happened.”