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30 May, 2013 14:00   ▪  

Taras Kuzio: Yanukovych is hoping for a “free lunch” at summit in Vilnius

Viktor Yanukovych seems to believe that EU will sign Association Agreement at Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius even if Yulia Tymoshenko stays imprisoned, Taras Kuzio, a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University-SAIS in Washington, claims in his article for EUobserver.

“…in reality the threat of Ukraine turning eastwards is an empty one.

The majority of Ukraine's business elite, not to mention political opposition groups, are against it. President Yanukovych and the so-called “Donetsk clan” of oligarchs from his home town are economic nationalists unwilling to give up sovereignty to either the EU or Russia. They want to live in a pre-globalised world in which they undertake integration eastwards or westwards on their own terms. They have forgotten the old adage that there is no such thing as a “free lunch”… President Yanukovych seems to believe that - contrary to all Western demands over the past 18 months - that he can keep her locked up and sign the EU treaty anyway. In other words, he is hoping for a free lunch in Vilnius,” highlights Kuzio.

Expert says that Brussels and the Cox-Kwasniewski mission should understand that the main motivation driving President Yanukovych is power and money.

“Everything else - including European integration - is secondary. Releasing Tymoshenko might lead to the signing of the association pact, but - he fears - might also see him lose power in 2015.

At the same time, the real power in Ukraine resides with Yanukovych's oligarch sponsors.

If the EU were to threaten some of the big fish, such as Rinat Akhmetov or Dmytro Firtash with visa bans and asset freezes, you would quickly see Yanukovych put under pressure to free Tymoshenko and to rein in his Nashi thugs. This is the only way to make him play by the rules, not with the rules, as former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana once said. It is time for Brussels to make it crystal clear there is no free lunch for him to eat,” Kuzio comments. 

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