The recent poll has been published by the IWP in Kyiv, Ukraine. Nearly 30 professionals took part in the study. Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the Institute of World Politicy, and Sergiy Solodkyy, deputy director of IWP has held a public presentation of expert poll about the first outcomes of president Viktor Yanukovych’s foreign policy. Among the participants: Zbigniew Brzezinski (USA), James Sherr (UK), Steven Pifer (USA), Philippe Moreau Defages (France), and Marcin Wojciechowski (Poland) and others. Excerpts below:
Over the past few months, there were a lot of discussions about the foreign policy of Viktor Yanukovych. The new government is tirelessly emphasizing that its priority is European integration of Ukraine and that developing relations good between Ukraine and Russia, from its point of view, is positively perceived not only in Moscow but also in Western capitals. The Institute of World Policy attempted to find out about, how to actually assess the foreign policy of Viktor Yanukovych not only in Ukraine but also abroad by polling experts. The specifics of this study are that we first selected and interviewed both Ukrainian and foreign experts who specialize in Ukrainian affairs.
1. What are the key achievements and failures you have noticed in the foreign policy of President Viktor Yanukovych?
A simple calculation of errors and achievements in foreign policy, which drew attention of the experts polled by the Institute of World Politics, showed that there are more shortcomings in the activity of President Viktor Yanukovych than achievements.
However, the most paradoxical is that the main achievement noted by the foreign policy experts is what Yanukovych did not do: that Ukraine will not join the CSTO, that Ukraine will not become part of the Customs Union, and that Ukraine does not recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The overwhelming majority of the experts called Yanukovych`s rejection of integration into NATO and signing of Kharkiv agreements on cheaper gas in exchange for the Russian fleet staying in Ukraine as his gravest foreign policy mistake. Some polled experts summarized this point by indicating that Viktor Yanukovych leads an unbalanced, pro-Russian foreign policy, which may strengthen strategic risks to Ukraine.
Experts insist that Yanukovych should not have proposed to the Parliament a law, which fixes the neutral status of Ukraine.
The speed of improving the relations with Russia is mistake. This make bad impression, that Yanukovych is under the pressure of Kremlin. The big plus for Yanukovych is more stable, more predictable policy. We know that most important for official Kiev is to improve the relations with Russia, we know, that in the other way Yanukovych doesn’t want to destroy relations with Brussels.
The biggest achievement of Yanukovych is his holding on the course of European integration.
Ukraine obtained an opportunity to buy gas at a less expensive rate. But this is a tactical rather than a strategic gain. After some time, Russia might be forced to raise prices again anyways.
Ukrainian strategic dependency on Russia has increased, with the likelihood that it will increase even more over the mid-term.
There are rumors in the West that Yanukovych plans to control Ukraine’s free press.
The biggest loss is a long-term presence of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea Fleet. It is a potent threat to sovereignty of Ukraine.