As EU taxpayers, we have the right to know what we are subsidising in Ukraine. And it's not a pretty picture.
I used to admire the EU. It was something I aspired to: a symbol of cooperation and unity of peoples, very much needed after two bloody wars in Europe. Standing in the parliament in Strasbourg back in 2004, I thought – this is where I want to work. Not anymore. In its dealings with Ukraine and Greece in the last two years, it has proven itself to be a misguided organization which seriously needs to re-think its policies and motivations.
The paper released by the European Commission entitled: “Support Package for Ukraine” is a most interesting and disturbing document. It details proposals to deliver a sum of 11 billion euros to Ukraine over the next few years. That’s right – 11 billion. So now it’s clear why there’s no money left for Greece…I had been wondering about that.
Check out the details:
- €3 billion from the EU budget in the coming years, €1.6 billion in macro financial assistance loans (MFA) and an assistance package of grants of €1.4 billion;
- Up to €8 billion from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development;
- Potential €3.5 billion leveraged through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility;
- Setting up of a donor coordination platform;
- Provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area when Association Agreement is signed and, if need be, by autonomous frontloading of trade measures;
- Organization of a High Level Investment Forum/Task Force;
- Modernization of the Ukraine Gas Transit System and work on reverse flows, notably via Slovakia;
- Acceleration of Visa Liberalization Action Plan within the established framework;
- Offer of a Mobility Partnership;
- Technical assistance on a number of areas from constitutional to judicial reform and preparation of elections.
Humanitarian assistance needs to be given to Ukraine - don't get me wrong - but the war needs to stop. Let’s recap on how it began in the first place, for those who aren’t so familiar with the Ukrainian crisis. The democratically elected president of Ukraine, Yanukovich, was ousted in 2014, and an illegitimate ‘government’ forcefully seized power, aided by various fascist organizations. The government which formed also contained fascist elements and began to issue anti-Russian rhetoric. Moves were made to eradicate Russian language and culture altogether – understandably angering over 8 million ethnic Russians which made up the population – but who considered themselves also Ukrainian. In particular, it caused an uprising in Crimea, which led to Crimea's request to join the Russian Federation. So what we have now is a war being waged by the Ukrainian government against its own people, being funded by the EU. And this is the war and the corrupt government that we are supporting as EU members – even though Ukraine itself is not a member of the EU. I didn’t sign up for that.
Having been in Kiev just two years ago, and seeing how vibrant and dynamic the city was, it is still incredulous to me how the country, which hosted the Euro 2012 football championship, could have got into this state; it's close to what has been termed a ‘financial Chernobyl’. All this misery and the 6000 death toll could have been avoided if democratic means had been used to change government.
As for the document itself, there were some rather disturbing points which caught my eye, and I needed clarification. I had to know what the EU position was on the East of Ukraine – a contentious issue, but one which the EU should be able to reflect on if it’s able to provide 11 billion euros.
So I phoned the EC office which has recently sprung up in Kiev. This was an interesting experience. Firstly, there are only two language options when you call - English and Ukrainian. Russian doesn’t even feature, despite the fact it is the second language and for 33% of the population, their native tongue. I mentioned this to the helpful gentleman at the EC in Kiev who told me that Russian was the ‘original language of Ukraine’ but not any more; in fact, now you ‘can hardly find’ a Russian speaker in an official capacity. He also felt the need to stress that Russian has not been ‘suppressed’, and that if someone phoned and spoke Russian they would be answered in Russian (I spoke to him later in Russian which he spoke fluently).
An interesting thing happened, though, when I began to ask him about the status of Russian language; he was interrupted and someone asked to whom he was speaking. We spoke for a minute, and then the phone went dead… I phoned back. He apologized for us being cut off. He also wanted to stress the information he had provided me with was ‘off the record’ and ‘his personal opinion -not the EU position’. So having phoned the office for facts – I got opinion! Score!
I asked the representative to clarify which ‘persons’ this dubious sentence was referring to below (highlighted) – were they the previous members of the Yanukovich government?
The Commission presented its proposal on Monday 24 February and is about to be adopted by the Council, updated to reflect the changing reality on the ground so as to now focus on the freezing and recovery of assets of persons identified as responsible for the misappropriation of State funds. The Commission stands ready to come forward with more proposals if and when necessary.
The answer – yes. Which is disturbing considering the increasing number of mysterious deaths of high-profile people linked to the former government. Are we therefore supporting a policy of lustration being carried out by this government in the same way as ex-Soviet officials were purged after 1991? It seems so.
I was still less sure about the following highlighted words in this next sentence; was it referring to peacekeepers or EU military involvement?
The Commission stands ready to provide assistance from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism should Ukraine request it. In anticipation, the Commission has already asked Participating States to the Mechanism to take stock of possible medical related offers of assistance.
Mr. Representative referred me to the ECHO website but stated that he wasn’t entirely sure what it referred to exactly, but most likely it was humanitarian aid, of which Donbass, he said, had received 80 million euros already this year. WHERE IS THE AID??? What has happened to that 80 million then?? For sure as anything, these people in the video below haven’t received any of it!!
Altogether, the phone call left me with a rather uncertain feeling. What was all the concern? Why was he afraid to speak to me honestly about the situation? I just asked for facts. And why were we cut off?
It’s about time we knew what we were subsidising, as EU taxpayers. I like giving to charity, but not this one.
Johanna Ganyukova is a graduate from the University of Edinburgh in Russian Studies and is currently completing an Msc at the University of Glasgow in Russian, Central and Eastern European Studies. She is RI's Russian Media Editor