This week was not very successful as far as the relations between the European Union and its Eastern neighbours are concerned. After diplomatic scandal in the relations with Minsk, a heated exchange took place between Brussels and Kyiv.
The source of the conflict was the statement of the EU Ambassador to Ukraine Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, who on Tuesday (28.02.2012) criticised the rule of President Viktor Yanukovych: “President Yanukovych’s pledges, since he was elected, that vertical power was necessary to fight corruption and create an attractive business climate have regrettably produced no such results”, he said.
The same day, Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued his own statement, in which it criticised Teixeira: “He was trying to participate in Ukrainian internal political processes and public discourse”. The Ministry described Teixeira’s involvement as a result of the process of “Ukrainisation” of the Ambassador, who expressed his thoughts more as a member of Ukrainian society than as a representative of the 27 member states of the EU.
Teixeira was defended by the office of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, Maja Kocijancic, stated that the Union completely rebuffs “unwarranted and unfounded” allegations of Kyiv. “The Ambassador continues to enjoy the full confidence of the European Union and has the support of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, and of the European External Action Service”, added Kocijancic.
According to Ukrainian edition of Kommiersant, the EU’s harsh comment is a response not only to the attack of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, but also to the smear campaign against Teixeira, inspired by the services of the Ukrainian Ministry. Quoting its Union sources, the newspaper claims that Brussels treated the incident in Ukraine similarly to the recent occurrences in the relations with Belarus: as an attack on all the 27 EU member states. According to Sviatoslav Pavlyuk from PAUCI Foundation, the actions of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry are a part of Kyiv’s attempt at shifting responsibility for failure in the relations with the Union onto the Union’s diplomacy.
Translated by Marta Lityńska