Ukraine refused to ‘sign a suicide note’, sending the EU’s ‘geopolitical project’ onto the rocks
RT:The European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
says Ukraine's U-turn is indeed a major disappointment. Who is
the biggest loser here - Ukraine or the EU?
John Laughland: The biggest loser here is the EU because the EU has conceived this Association Agreement, like all the other agreements that it tries to sign with the former Eastern European states, as a geopolitical project. It is very important to understand that in the midst of all the accusations against Russia it is actually the EU which sees Eastern expansion as a geopolitical and indeed an ideological project.
We saw this back in September when Armenia, which of course in comparison to Ukraine is a tiny country and therefore is mostly below people’s radar screens; Armenia signed up for the customs union with Russia and the other members of the customs union of the customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus and so on. And immediately Brussels said that any possibility of it signing an Association Agreement with the EU was off the table.
So the EU back in September made it clear that you either have to sign an EU agreement or you had to sign the Russian one. If you wanted to sign the Russian one, you would not be allowed to sign the European one. And that is because it has been pursuing now, for 20 years as a European Union, as I say, geopolitical, ideological project of ever further integration. And that is what just hit the rocks today.
RT:What do you make of President Putin's statement that the EU “blackmailed” and “pressured” Ukraine over the trade pact suspension?
JL: He is absolutely right. All the Western press are
accusing him of blackmail but he is absolutely right. That is
what I have just said about Armenia. They’ve told Armenia that
all chance of signing an agreement with them is off the table as
soon as they sign the customs agreement. And that message was
obviously meant for Ukraine. We have to see this in the context
of geopolitical projects.
It is no coincidence that all of the EU’s chief envoys, ambassadors and rapporteurs on this Ukrainian issue have been Poles. They have been Polish citizens. Former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, was the special envoy, the EU’s ambassador to Kiev is Polish. This is an old geopolitical dream of Poland, which has always regarded Ukraine as its back yard. And there is no other way to see this. It did not need to be like this however. This is, after all, only a trade agreement. And where I think Ukraine has been very clever, I think one has to give credit to Yanukovich on this, is that he has offered a three way talk, a tripod discussion between Ukraine, the EU and Russia. His government always said it wants to be a bridge between the EU and Russia. And that amiably reasonable proposal has been angrily rejected by the EU, because precisely the geopolitical project consists in forcing Russia as far out of European affairs as possible.
RT:Would this trade deal with the EU help Ukraine's economy, which is experiencing hard times right now?
JL: It would have finished it off. It would have been a coup de gras to an economy which is already very weak. And I’m not just saying that out of polemical reasons. Anybody who has followed the sad story, very sad, and in some cases catastrophic story of the Eastern European economies as I have in the 1990s and 2000s, I’m thinking especially of countries in the Balkans, weaker countries like Bulgaria and Romania. But also now countries like Greece and Cyprus. Anybody who has followed the history of those countries over the last 15-20 years can see how signature of this agreement and indeed the preparation for the signature is absolutely catastrophic for the economies, because the industries can’t stand up to the competition, because EU regulation is too costly for these weaker economies and because their natural markets are in the East, particularly with Russia. It would have been signing a suicide note.