EU trade deal would be Ukraine’s ‘ticket for the Titanic’
This Thursday, Ukraine halted its preparations for signing a trade and political agreement with the European Union, which could have eventually led to Ukraine joining the bloc. The Ukrainian government has decided to align itself closer to Russia to restore lost trade volumes and ensure national security. The decision was taken one week before a planned meeting on Nov. 29 in Lithuania, where Ukraine was supposed to sign the deal. Russia welcomed Ukraine's desire to actively develop ties with Moscow.
RT: Ukraine has halted talks with the EU. Who is actually the bigger loser here?
Neil Clark: I think we shouldn’t talk about losers, we should talk about winners here. Ukraine has a great victory today. I mean they had a strange week: they lost in a World Cup qualifying match to France on Tuesday, but today is more important really, because this deal would have been a disaster for Ukraine. It would have wiped out millions of jobs, it would have led to rising prices in Ukraine. I think it’s a lucky escape really, because I think this deal was bad news for Ukraine. It would be like somebody today going back in time to 1912 and buying a ticket for the Titanic, it would be national suicide for the Ukrainian government to sign this.
RT: But they were very close to signing that deal. It was just a week away. What really prompted them to make this turn, what do you think?
NC: I don’t really know, but I think it’s great news, isn’t it? I think that obviously Russia has been coming there to persuade the Ukrainian government. The Ukrainian government is seeing sense, and only the minority of people actually wanted this deal. So it’s a good day for democracy as well. And all the propaganda the EU has been pumping out to the Ukrainians, saying, “You have got to sign this deal, it is going to be great news.” Well, it’s absolute nonsense. If we look around the region, all the countries that have signed the EU deals, their economies have suffered badly, and the economies that haven’t, Belarus for example, they have done much better. There is a great myth for countries of the ex-socialist bloc that if you are going to join EU or sign trade deals with the EU, you’ll get prosperity. It’s actually the opposite. If you want your country to be ruined, then join the EU or sign a trade deal.
RT: So it’s a carrying out a clever balancing … Ukraine said it wants to preserve and revive these trade ties with Russia before continuing talk about the deal with Europe.Is it actually possible to keep both happy?
NC: Well, it depends how far they go down the EU path. Let’s suppose, if Ukraine have been in the EU already, they would have signed up this disastrous trade embargo on Iran. [It’s] absolutely nuts for the EU to put that through. So Ukraine benefits from not being in the EU. I think for the future of Ukraine, it’s quite clear: to be with Russia for energy deals, for its economy. The EU is a sinking ship, it’s a Titanic of 2013 and no one in a right state of mind wants to join the sinking ship or buy a ticket to join a sinking ship. Ukraine’s future must lie with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in a Customs Union.
RT: But so many Ukrainians would disagree with this, they would prefer West rather than East.
NC: Forty-five percent wanted this trade deal, but we need to count the enormous pro-EU propaganda that goes on in Ukraine. This sort of myth that the streets in the EU are paved with gold. The EU is, as I said before, a sinking ship. If we look around the region, look at Poland: what a disastrous economy the Poles have got – with 30 percent youth unemployment, Poles have to immigrate to Britain to work, it’s a tragedy. Compare this with Belarus, where they have a very low unemployment, Belarus isn’t in the EU like Poland, it’s done much better than Poland. The evidence around this region tells you that joining the EU or actually signing trade deals with the EU is not the way to go, it’s a disaster. It must be not for the elites, but for the ordinary people. Ukraine would have been de-industrialized by this deal, the factories would have been closed, prices would have gone up and unemployment would have risen. So it’s a kind of myth that the EU is a way to prosperity for countries of Eastern Europe. It’s not. Russia is the country that can offer great deals to Ukraine, that’s where its future lies, I think.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.