The Russia-Ukraine war has entered its 11th month. Under the cold winter, the end of the war still seems far away, but any war will end one day. People should start to imagine the post-war Ukraine issue today.
As a geopolitical existence, Ukraine's "big question" since the end of the Cold War is whether Ukraine "belongs to Russia" or "belongs to Europe".
From 1994 to 2005, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has been trying to take the middle line and be loyal to Ukraine's marginal status (the word "Ukraine" means a marginal zone), but ultimately failed, making Ukraine a country since the Orange Revolution in 2004. Since then, it has been trapped in the split between "pro-Russia" and "pro-Europe".
In 2014, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych resigned during demonstrations, Russia annexed Crimea, and after pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region set aside land to stand on their own, the "pro-European" faction gradually took over. upper hand.
In February 2022, Putin decided to invade Ukraine, and there is no suspense in Ukrainian public opinion about "joining the European Union".
Zelensky applied to join the EU at the beginning of the war, and the EU quickly and wisely confirmed Ukraine as a candidate member state.
Compared with joining NATO, joining the European Union almost has a sense of irreversible destiny. As long as the war ends and Ukraine is not destroyed, no matter how the war ends, Ukraine will also write its history of "Brexit from Russia and join the European Union". Chapter - In the "official language" of Brussels, "The future of Ukraine and its people lies in the European Union".
This kind of "irreversibility" even putin, who tends to deny the rationality of Ukraine's independent status, seems to have "resignedly". After Ukraine obtained the status of a candidate member state, he once stated that he has no worries about Ukraine joining the European Union, which is different from NATO.
On December 28, Zelensky delivered his annual address to Congress.
The picture shows that the European Union flag has been hung in the Congress Chamber.
In the Western discourse system, the Battle of Ukraine to defend the country is also a battle to protect freedom and democracy.
This kind of romanticized cognition, of course, will make people overly beautify Ukraine's prospects for joining the European Union.
However, when the war really ends and the romantic glasses fade away, Ukraine's future in the European Union is actually not safe.
Domestic reforms are key
At a time when the war is raging, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has a very positive image of a "war hero" in the West, and authoritative media such as "Time Magazine" or "Financial Times" also listed him without dispute. "Person of the Year".
However, when the war subsides, the Western media may soon treat the Zelensky government as the government they are used to criticizing, and the Zelensky government has indeed inherited the corrupt political culture in Ukraine. This will undoubtedly make Ukraine's "accession to the European Union" very difficult.
When the European Union officially designated Ukraine as a candidate member state in June this year, it actually proposed seven major reform projects, including constitutional reform, judicial reform, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering legislation, implementation of anti-oligarch laws, and acceptance of EU-aligned policies. Media laws, and reform of minorities in the country.
Even in the midst of the war, the EU demanded that Ukraine make these reforms not directly related to the war before moving forward with its membership process.
According to a report by the Kyiv Post citing a Ukrainian official, the reason why France and Germany quickly granted Ukraine candidate membership was only out of public relations considerations, and neither country actually intends to allow Ukraine to be a candidate for membership any time soon. Ukraine officially becomes a member of the European Union.
French President Emmanuel Macron has long stated that Ukraine's accession process will be counted in ten years.
Zelensky named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
The length of time to join the EU will of course depend on whether the Zelensky administration can speed up the implementation of the reforms requested by the EU.
At this level, the evaluations of various analysts are probably mixed.
Slight progress in anti-corruption
In terms of anti-corruption, the Zelensky administration seems to have made some progress.
As early as July, Oleksandr Klymenko, who was in charge of investigating the corruption case of Oleg Tatarov, the Deputy Director of the Ukrainian President's Office, was finally appointed as the special anti-corruption prosecutor after two years of repeated obstacles.
After taking office, he has also flexed his muscles and added a lot of anti-corruption investigations, which has been well received by all walks of life for the time being.
On December 13, Zelensky also signed a law to dissolve the Kyiv Regional Administrative Court, which was regarded as a hotbed of corruption, and officially kicked out judge Pavlo Vovk from the court who had already been exposed to corruption recording evidence by the national anti-corruption agency.
Vovk is another example of how the system can run despite clear allegations of corruption - recordings show him discussing illegal agreements and joking that the court's work is "political prostitution".
The national anti-corruption agency made the recordings public as early as 2020, but the prosecutors' case against Vovk has been blocked by different courts.
Zelensky proposed legislation to dissolve the Kyiv Regional Administrative Court in April 2021, but was delayed by Congress. It was not until the U.S. State Department sanctioned Vovk on December 9 this year that Congress passed the law. Ski signed into law.
From this incident, it can be seen that even if Zelensky himself intends to crack down on corruption, there is still a lot of institutional pressure in Ukraine.
The progress of the seven major reform projects in Ukraine was scored by the New Europe Center in Kyiv as of November 8.
Judge Appointment Reform Reveals Dilemma
On the level of constitutional reform, the Zelensky administration has recently been accused of going against the EU.
The EU has been asking Ukraine to establish a transparent and independent system for the appointment of judges to its constitutional court, while the Venice Committee (Venice Committee) under the European Council (Council of Europe, not an EU institution) specially set up for constitutional issues in Central and Eastern Europe Commission) has also made related recommendations.
However, in July of this year, the Ukrainian Congress ignored the proposal of the European Union and appointed a member of Congress of Zelensky's "People's Servant Party" as a judge of the Constitutional Court.
Congress did pass legislation on December 13 to establish an "expert advisory group" for judge selection, but half of the members of this body are government-appointed, which in disguise gives the government veto power over candidates, and the group's recommendations do not have to be rejected. accept.
Later, on the 19th, the Venice Committee raised objections, but Zelensky still ignored his suggestion and signed the bill.
By the 23rd, the European Commission also spoke out, indicating that the Commission expects the Ukrainian authorities to fully handle the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
The dispute over the appointment of constitutional court judges illustrates the dilemma in Ukraine's reforms towards the European Union.
On the one hand, if Zelenskiy is to effectively implement the reforms proposed by the European Union, it seems necessary for him to centralize powers, including the appointment of constitutional court judges, at a time when official corruption in Ukraine remains endemic.
In fact, in 2020, the Constitutional Court canceled the public’s right to know about asset declarations and criminal penalties for false electronic declarations, hindering the government’s anti-corruption efforts.
In its assessment in November, the Venice Commission also once agreed with the non-legally binding terms of the "expert advisory group" decision, arguing that the "current situation" in Ukraine can justify a certain degree of political interference in the judiciary.
On the other hand, if the Constitutional Court, which can limit the power of the government, is actually controlled by the government, there will be no system reform in Ukraine, and everything will return to the rule of man.
On December 21, in Washington, USA, Zelensky presented the Ukrainian flag to Pelosi and US Vice President Kamala Harris.
The flag is from the garrison of Bakhmut and bears the signatures of front-line soldiers.
Although the above-mentioned incidents of Ukraine's "entry into the European Union" reform are very dull and involve a lot of details, they are the only way for Ukraine to finally join the European Union.
The EU will review Ukraine's reform process in March next year, and propose the next step of EU entry work based on it.
Compared with the current seven reform proposals, the future EU accession procedures will be more cumbersome. The EU accession negotiations involve more than 30 negotiation topics, ranging from free circulation of goods, agricultural and rural development, trans-European transportation, to government procurement, education It is all-encompassing with culture, foreign relations, etc., and will touch the distribution of various political and economic interests within the Ukrainian state.
It can be seen that Ukraine's accession to the European Union will be a long and difficult process - even after the war is over.
Access to the various subjects of the EU negotiations.
(New Europe Center)
At a time when the war against Russia unites the country, reforms for EU membership seem to be a Ukrainian consensus.
But after the war, these reforms that seem to be imposed on Ukraine by the EU may be packaged as "foreign intervention" by some political operators with vested interests, and even detain the EU as "another Russia" hat.
At present, some vested interests who have been attacked have used terms such as "external forces" to refute the government's actions.
The post-war environment predictably made this propaganda even more marketable.
Under the flames of war, Ukraine's road to Europe seems bright.
But after the war, Ukraine has a great chance to become like many countries in the Balkan Peninsula, staying in the position of "candidate country in negotiation" for many years.
Kherson was repeatedly bombarded by the Russian army. Ukraine purchased and developed drones. Ripples of the Russo-Ukrainian War: Fake demonstrations really blocked?
Azerbaijan concocted the established facts of Naka and announced the expansion of its army to 1.5 million: Why does Russia fight a war of attrition with Ukraine? It is a psychological warfare to go deep into Russian borders. Ukraine wants to prove that Putin is just a "paper tiger"?