Interview with Professor Laszlo Maracz of Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan, RT.com, Feb 22, 2016
Europeans fear the planned EU-Ukraine association agreement – the first step to integrate Ukraine into the bloc – may lead to a new crisis on the European Union’s eastern borders, Professor Laszlo Maracz of Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan told RT.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, are currently in Kiev for political talks. Before setting off on the trip, they yet again urged Ukraine’s government to implement political reforms, including a new election law, special rights for regions, and stronger efforts in countering corruption.
The visit comes just one day after up to 1,000 radicals rallied in central Kiev’s Maidan Square on February 21, demanding the resignation of the government and early elections. This weekend marked two years since the bloody uprising in the Ukrainian capital, which led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich.
Meanwhile, Dutch journalists have leaked government plans on dealing with an upcoming April 6 non-binding referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (EUAA). The treaty envisions closer economic, political, and cultural ties between Kiev and the bloc. A ‘no’ vote in the referendum would force the Dutch government, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, to reconsider the pact.
Officials have now been advised to make the details of the deal look as appealing as possible by using words like “democratization,” and calling the treaty a “cooperation agreement.” They’ve also been told to drop rhetoric on sensitive issues like security concerns, and to avoid focusing on the Russian government’s interests in Ukraine. Most voters are likely to reject the agreement with Kiev, according to a new poll.
RT discussed the issue with Dr. Laszlo Maracz, a professor at Gumilyov Eurasian National University in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana.
RT: We’ve heard that most voters are likely to reject the agreement with Kiev. So what are people afraid of?
Laszlo Maracz: I can imagine that everyone in Brussels who is confronted with [the] democratic challenge of European politics is a bit afraid, because Europe is on the defensive now. We are [going] from crisis to crisis. If the Dutch electorate votes against this association agreement with Ukraine, we [will] have another crisis. The Netherlands is chairing the European Council at present, until June. It would be extremely delicate if the European parties, the pro-European government in the Netherlands, would not be successful in these votes, during its own chairmanship. This would mean that the political elites in Europe would face another serious challenge from the anti-establishment parties.
RT: Do you think that the majority of the electorate will vote against the so-called EU-Ukraine Association Agreement?
LM: I don’t think that everyone will vote against it. There will be a majority of the electorate voting against this association agreement. The referendum won’t [be influenced by] the political and economic situation in Ukraine, because Dutch voters know too little to have an objective opinion on this. I think the European policy of the present social-liberal government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be weighted. I am not sure that the electorate will support the policy he is executing, for example, in case of the migrant policy, which is very close to the open-door policy of the German government.
RT: Is there something that the Ukrainian government, led by President Petro Poroshenko, should be afraid of?
LM: I think with respect to Ukraine, the political elite under the leadership of President Poroshenko can probably be relaxed, because the EU will do everything to keep them in power. But the electorate in Europe is not satisfied with the results, because having Ukraine – which is morally and politically a black hole and economically at the brink of collapse – would mean that Europe would not only have a crisis situation and tensions on its southern borders, but also on its eastern borders. This is a situation that will not be possible to be handled, because Europe is not in a state to do so.
RT: Officials stress that the association agreement with Kiev isn’t actually an invitation to join the bloc. What’s your take on that?
LM: The association agreement with Ukraine is considered to be a first step [to] integrating Ukraine into the EU. It is said that it is only a trade agreement, but if you look at the text, if you read it, there are paragraphs on military cooperation, for example…it is very questionable decision, it will bring a lot of tensions with Russia…
More on RT:
Ukraine-EU agreement a ‘George Soros road to nowhere’ – RT host Max Keiser , Feb 21, 2016
Dutch government media strategy leaked for April 2016 EU-Ukraine referendum, by Anneke De Laaf (Netherlands), Novaya Gazeta, Feb 20, 2016