UKRAINE 2 = Don’t make (half) promises on enlargement. Better possibilities for neighborhood action.

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Ukraine 2

On “enlargement”  questions  we should  carefully refrain from any  promises and half-promises.We can do something more useful on Europe’s neighborhood work.

In an earlier blog we warned against half promises to the Ukrainians on membership in the European Union. We did not delve into the rich geopolitical dynamics which are at work between Moscow, Kiev and Brussels and Washington as the demonstrations continued. We felt it a more useful task to warn against half promises to Ukraine on possible membership of the European Union. From the Turkish example we have learned how difficult it is master expectations once they are arused and are then exploited by the non-member government against servile European politicians.

Better be strictly formal (note[1] ) in the case of Ukraine as in any other case of neighborhood programs. The need to return to strict formality in contacts with non EU-members is shown by the many too facile attempts at playing geopolitics in the Washington, Brussels Kiev Moscow quadrangle.

Expressiing half promises favors the US public (Government) and private (Soros cum suis) antiquated policies on East West relations.

To be prudent oneastward enlargement of the EU does not necessarily mean that we would prefer joining the Russian Federation for a much wider Eurasian compact as some are advocating. All those adventuresque geopolitical ambitions  come up because of too great impatience with present European weaknesses. We should rather exercise patience but work hard at tasks more directly at hand.

Some readers may find our approach too formal and not in tune with their wish create “Puissance Europe” or deficient in pointing to the Brussels-Kiev-Moscow-Washington geopolitical dynamics. “Puissance Europe ” will come back later, and rather by itself,  once we shall have done some solid work on the financial crisis, on the restructuring of our economies , and on salvaging our cultural and social cohesion in our education and in our immigration policies, both at a European and e national level. Much remains to be done.


Let’s we go on therefore with our modest and real task:

The denunciation of


ALDE Leader Guy Verhofstadt, speaking during a live link to Maidan square in Kyiv with one of the leaders of the protesters Mykola Katerynchuk,
President of the European Party of Ukraine said:

” The Ukrainian people have chosen Europe and not Moscow and while Russia may have legitimate concerns about the trade agreements of its neighbors – sabotage and blackmail is not acceptable. The Russian interests end where the Ukrainian people’s
sovereignty over the choice of their own future begins.” ( – 17.12.2013  )

A sort of wild half promise comes even from the European Commission itself. An overview of nine non-member countries with a wealth of documentation on their economies is regularly published by EUROSTAT (ISBN 978-92-79-27569-2) and starts in the following casual way:

“The European Union is currently made up of 27 members States (EU-27)  Nevertheless there is an ongoing process for its future enlargement.”

Readers must be amazed on the cavalier generality with which “an ongoing process for its future enlargement “is thus presented to the public. The expression is far too open-ended.

Enlargements should rather be mentioned as highly exceptional cases, where a clear and existential need is found for the present European Union, acknowledged also by some form of democratic European vote, to co-opt a non-member state.


Another matter which was alluded to in our first blog on the Ukrainian question involved parallels with the Turkish claim for membership.

There is in that parallel both similarity and difference.In both cases there is a total lack of convincing arguments for the enlargement. But even there is a difference

While in the case of Turkey we have seen a list of trumped-up and unconvincing arguments. A similar effort for the Ukraine’s has never reached the public.Enough reason exists to not go any step forward other than with “neighborship” or even “partnership” policies with Ukraine.

Do we still remember when there was at least some reflection on reasons to admit Turkey to the European Union?  S0mewhere in the Nineteen-Nineties I had the fortune of a Hanns Seidel Stiftung invitation to Brussels and on the basis of that looking at my notes of that time here is a list as presented by a high official of the European Commission whom I was later to meet in his quality as an EU-Commission Ambassador to China.

His arguments for inviting Turkey to the European Union were the following

(Left column. The right column has a few of my comments)

————————————————————————————————————— –

prevention of extremism inside Turkey Membership of Turkey in order to discipline Turkey?    That looks extravagant and too costly to Europe. We should never consider membership on such a basis
The fact that Turkey proclaims to possess a EUROPEAN VOCATION) It is not Turkey’s “vocation” which is a determining factor in new membership, but whether Europe and the European Union  have a clear and unequivocal vocation (a need) to include Turkey
Faithful Turkish support  under NATO arrangements in our past European defence That is a valid argument for some reward But it is not clear tht service to NATO must  be paid by the European Union.The Union and the NATO are two distinct entities.
Turkey supported western military strategy  in the Gulf War (the first Gulf war). In the second Gulf War, that support was not forthcoming in the same way, Moreover again the Gulf War was not a European war and met with strong opposition.
Turkey as a E.IU. member would help promotion of  European commerce and investment with and in  Asia. Our European traders are able enough to find their own ways in Asia like they have shown in former ages. (examples the British and the Dutch).More-over they will find Turkish traders very willing to help a hand in establishing relations. Trade and investment in Asia do not need Turkey’s membership in the European Union
Turkey’s accession might restore unity of the island of  Cyprus, which is now divided in a Turkish and a Greek zone It looks highly improbable that the present Turkish regime would give up its occupation of the North for membership in the European Union. For the EU to accept Turkey’s accession while recognizing the division of Cyprus is not an offer we should bring to the table. The price of having Cyprus’unity under a Greek-Turkish federation) is too high and unjust to the Greek side. We must at any rate continue to  support the south and seek to discipline the north.
Turkey’s accession would help to rejuvenate  the European Union and thus  rescue the financial stability of  Europe’s retirement systems. (reference to the “Charpin report” and similar  documents; a United Naitonal report of 2000 seems in the same direction,not limited to Turkish immigration) Other demographers (Michele Tribalat a.o.) have shown that the thesis (once supported by the United Nations Population Bureau) would need the admittance of over hundred million non European migrants, and that on a repeating basis, whi h are clear impossibilities .The thesis disregards also totally the quality of immigration and the absorption capacity with respect to non-European immigration.
When in  enlargement discussions it becomes finally clear that no valid arguments are forthcoming to the question “WHY? , the promotors of Turkish membership  cleverly turn the question around : “Why NOT?   In order to cause a reversal of the burden of proof and to cast doubts on cultural objections which might motivate refusal The cleverness of the diversion in arghuing the Turkeish case from “WHY” to an emotionally loaded “WHY NOT”? is the following: instead of looking for solid  arguments in favor of Turkish membership, the search is now diverted to objections such as : Is the refusal based on the European side seeing the EU as a “Christian Club?  But even if indeed some valid reasons exist along this line they would leave intact the total absence of argument in FAVOR of Turkey’s membership.The “Christian club” argument may have some merits in terms of heritage and social and cultural cohesion of our societies, but particularly so when arguments in favor are absent. Nevertheless the turning around he question : “WHY? Into a “WHY NOT? Was a clever but cheap trick  of our opponents and should serve us as a warning

Returning now to the Ukrainian case 

So far we have not seen any list provided either by Ukraine or by the European Union, .

At least as can be seen from the Hanns Seidel seminar and the participation of a EU official on Turkey some homework was done even if none of the arguments in favor of aceession carried any weight.

For Ukraine not even such homework has been done.Perhaps George Friedman founder of Stratfor sums up the only possible argument rightly as follows:

 “For a Western power, Ukraine is of value only if that power is planning to engage and defeat Russia, as the Germans tried to do in World War II.

But that would be totally implausible .There is in Europe no wish  to see Russia defeated. Nor any wish to have the  Ukraine under its responsibility :

 “What is odd is that it is not clear that the European Union or Russia want Ukraine. The European Union is not about to take on another weakling. It has enough already.” (G.Friedman)

Ukraine and Turkey offer a parallel with some diffierences.

A  parallel between the Turkish and the Ukrainian case exists in the absence of any valid arguments for Europen Union Membership.

There is however also a difference between the two cases : whereas Turkey is clearly of a very different cultural background, becoming by the day more and more islamic, Ukraine is to a large extent Christian. Is this difference of any importance? Yes and no.

Yes social and cultural cohesion are important factors to keep and restore the strength (even puissance) of Europe.. In the Turkish the argument might have been of some importance if the arguments in favor of Turkey’a adherence had been strong and then we had to weigh those favorable facts against risks of cultural division. But that case did not present itself, since there were NO favorable arguments. No weighing against cultural factors was was needed.

Our line on Ukraine makes therefore our argumentation even stronger since we are saying that for the Ukraine which we do have a partly shared cultural heritage we will not accept membership since no other valid arguments are produced.                                                        It is always the OTHER arguments (beyond culture) which should be examined on their strength  In both cases Turkey and Ukraine they are deficient.

(note  [3]

Friedman again: That is what I found most interesting. Ukraine is independent, and I think it will stay independent. Its deepest problem is what to do with that independence, a plan it can formulate only in terms of someone else, in this case Europe or Russia. The great internal fight in Ukraine is not over how Ukraine will manage itself but whether it will be aligned with Europe or Russia.

In agreement with George Friedman’s analysis, we may conclude that it cannot be Europe’s task to help nations getting  over their growing-up self-questioning. Even without enlargements we have enough problems of ourselves.

                       After stressing the need to be “formal”  and  to refrain always from enlargement promises,


THE BALKANS. We could spend some more attention to the Balkan which were once the rampart of Europe’s defenses. Particularly now Serbia which must be accompanied on its road to the European Union membership  and must still be given a decent say on what happens in Kosovo–Metohija on which so far it receive scant recognition..

A reach- out between civil society in Western Europe and in Serbia would be very good to healing wounds. Let us not leave the field to Turkey looking for its chances of neo-Ottoman expansion.

A special case is also the Kosovo-Metohija region which was still in recent memory  a province of Serbia within the Yugoslav Federation with a serb majority.

That region has yet not received  the recognition of all European nations  as a fully sovereign independent state. And quite understandably so, if we look at the very “creative” verdict which the International Court of Justice presided by Judge Owada produced, stating ”that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence voted in the Parlementary Assembly of Kosovo on  17th of February 2008 did not violate general international law.”  (a crticial persiflage has appeared on this website)

Among NGO’s “Solidarity Kosovo” is an impressive private undertaking of French, Spanish and  other European people helping  the Christian Serbs to survive in their dangerous moslim surroundings of today. (Note [4] )

AFRICA . Another field of neighborly action could be found in developing  relations with Africa and the Near East. The French after a terrible mistake in starting a war against the Ghaddafy regime in  Lybia,  have made  now valid but insufficient moves to diminish the bad fall-out of that past action. We see them at work both in Mali and now also in Central Africa They deserve more support from other European countries .As Bernard Lugan explains the French are meeting with growing resistance in the very county, Mali, which they liberated from islamic domination. The French need now not only more material help and more soldiers from other European countries but also shared symbolic presence of Europe. When cries resound in Mali: “A bas la France”, Europe must be shown to participate in the necessary actions which are of worldwide importance.(note [5])

Negotiating and cooperating with African nations we should be able to make better provisions in controlling the flow of refugees and of illegal migration That could make the need for a “Lampedusa” on European soil obsolete. If bishops do well inviting the laity to the Gospel, it is for the politically competent laity to invite bishops to the hard realtities of Geopolitics.

If that mutual invitation can be realized after decades of wishy-washy angelical attutudes which Jean Raspail described very well, good cooperation between bishops and laymen can  be found. At any rate “tears” and “shame”  about Lampedusa are not enough  to get any further.The moment is for practical solutions and not for angelism. (may Archangel Michael forgive the use of such an expression.  He will probably anyhow understand and applaud a more militant Christian laity).

For the Near East, action is likewise needed in light of the large numbers of Syrian refugees  Forty years ago it was my dutye to visit Syrian monasteries in the south of Turkey. I saw the trheats on the Christian endangered minorities, and thos threat have become more heavy in the wider near Eastern area. Syrians must be helped in temporary resettlement and given hope for their return to their original homeland.

Anton Smitsendonk


Note [1] Some readers may not like the formal and limited approach for a European Union, since they have grand visions on even a “Eurasian Grouping” in which also Russia and a big  part of Asia  would also be comprised.

 Note [2]   To be formal and reserved on enlargement promises seems to us also more gentleman-like way if we remember the disasters which occurred when a century ago Europe was too forward in promising statehood to the Armenians in Turkey.  The Armenians rose up too quickly to the promise and were massacred by Turks (or their Kurdish executors.I have heard however  about Turkish provicial governors who nobly refused to eecute the killing orders of Thalaat PashaThe need to be formal and warn against easy promises remains therefore.

Note [3] A curious statement came from som rather new member of the European Union which probably is not y et sufficiently aware of real reasons for enlargement. We heard a Portuguese Ambassador in Paris claming that Bugaria should be admitted because for Portugal admittance had brought so clear advantages. Admittance is never given for the benefit of a non-member but for the clear and necessary benefits of its present members

The Portugal reference came up since I heard a Portuguese Ambassador argue in a Confrontations E urope congress; That it would be good to admit Bulgaria and Rumania in the European Union since (and that was the reasoning) membership had been also good for Portugal.

Note [4] Meanwhile, particularly during the Christmas and New Year season readers might wish to have a look at the website of “Solidarity Kosovo”.where, initiated by French volunteers, notably Arnaud Gouillon,  already for several years  efforts are  made to help the besieged and isolated Serbian families on the territory of Kosovo-Metohija. Annual  expeditions of food,clothing educational  and sporting goods are sent now also from other countries like Spain , in order to keep up the health and the spirit, the “morale”,  of the younger Serb generation in that difficult place.Attractive for western European ears is also the link to Radio Solidarity Kosovo, It has a fine selection of Serbian  songs, often  coming from a very old and interesting  traditions.

 Note [5] Bernard Lugan  december 2013 « Mali : un an après l’opération Serval ; La France entre l’enclume sudiste et le marteau nordiste »






About dutasia

Former Ambassador of the Netherlands, presently National Commissioner for Thailand and for Indonesia in the ICC, the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Organization. Chairman of China Carbon Forum in Beijing, China.
This entry was posted in Africa, Balkan countries, Catholic Church, democracy, diplomacy, Europe's relations with other continents, European Union enlargement, European Union Neighborhood, France, immigration, Immigration into Europe, Islam, its developments worldwide, Turkey, Turkey's campaign for EU accession, Uncategorized, USA. Bookmark the permalink.

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