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14 Sep, 2007 13:04

Ukraine faces dilemma over Europe

With a snap parliamentary election only weeks away, Ukrainian voters are starting to think hard about the future, and particularly about Europe. The eleventh Ukraine-European Union summit has opened in Kiev, where closer links between the two are being di

Many of Ukraine's younger generation support efforts to win entry to the EU. They see it as the best route to better opportunities and long-term prosperity. 
In the short term, many want to travel and work abroad, particularly in the EU.  English is regarded as a passport to success, and language schools are booming across the country, offering classes to both adults and teenagers. 
Vasily Miroshnichenko of CFC consulting recognises the trend, and believes both Europe and Ukraine will benefit from closer ties.
“The economy of the EU will require people and it will also require talent. I believe that Ukraine’s major advantage on the international market is human capital,” he said.
The EU summit in Kiev is another attempt for the Ukrainian government to knock on the Union’s door.
In response, EU leaders are urging swift action from Ukraine's political leaders after parliamentary elections on September 30.  Brussels says in the interests of political stability in the country, a cabinet should be formed without delay.
While the youth dream of open borders and greater wealth, there remains scepticism in Ukraine about the short-term effects on the country should it join the EU.

There are fears small farms may disappear, and since more than 20% of Ukrainians still work on the land, that's a major concern. In addition, meeting the EU's tough environmental and food safety standards may cost the country billions.
There's also the question of Ukraine's infrastructure and largely obsolete heavy industry, which will need substantial investment to upgrade.