Ukraine has a well-educated middle class, but is essentially bust and is currently in receipt of IMF funding – yet again
Next month the EU sits down with Ukraine, formerly of the USSR, to review progress on the 2011 ‘Associated Status’ membership application to Club EU, scheduled to be signed at Vilnius this November.
What are the advantages for Ukraine? Enhanced Schengen visa status for its citizens, growth in tourism at home, links into the Common Market for trade, improved defence potential, a final split from Russian hegemony... And it defines Ukraine, below Russia and above Turkey, as being decidedly European, which as an independent country it really is.
What does the EU gain? The satisfaction of the Ukraine joining it and not moving towards Russia, and another 35 million people for the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to spread their creeping bureaucracy over, or in a word, more power – especially for the CAP department, as this country possesses 70 per cent of the entire planet’s Black Earth, the most fertile there is.
The bureaucrats’ gravy-train can dole out EU regional subsidy money for tourism infrastructure projects, from ski resorts in the Carpathian Mountains to summer resorts along the beautiful Crimean coastline, but not much else. Plenty of corrupt possibilities there.
Ukraine has a well-educated middle class, but is essentially bust and is currently in receipt of IMF funding – yet again. Why? Because the country is totally corrupt at the top, and with an anti-business attitude pervading its political class to boot. Hmmm ... sounds just like the EU, doesn’t it, but worse.
Cosying up to Russia
Former president Yulia Tymoshenko, the popular leader of the bloodless Orange Revolution in 2004, is languishing in jail having gone down on corruption charges for a deal with Putin, overpaying for Russian gas and allegedly pocketing $188 million for herself.
Anyway, whether she is innocent or not doesn’t bother those who sentenced her – it’s called ‘selective justice’ in Ukraine – as the judges are more corrupt than the politicians who pay them, and tell them what their judgements should, or shouldn’t, say. The imprisonment of Tymoshenko will prevent EU accession this November, unless revoked, leaving the Ukraine adrift once again.
The man who put her there, now her successor, President Yanukovich, went unannounced to see Putin last week in Moscow; no reason was given and no communiqué was issued.
There are these days only two Ukrainian assets of any consequence for Russia: first, the traditional deep-water anchorage for the southern Russian Navy at Sevastopol on the Black Sea, which is covered by long-term lease arrangements; and second, the major strategic infrastructure of the gas-transfer pipelines from Russia to Europe, which run right across the Ukraine... and it’s no secret that Putin wants these back under his control.
This would allow Russia’s Gazprom to be a vertical global player, from exploration, extraction and distribution right to the customers’ backdoor, namely the EU. That explains the quiet visit to Moscow this week – say no more.
All of which brings us back to Hill’s Principles of Bureaucracy:
- Bureaucracy means more corruption. Everywhere south and east of Southend Pier is basically corrupt – and that includes half of Essex, the county of second-hand car dealers and over-priced double-glazing salesmen;
- More bureaucracy only means more waste and inefficiency; and
- Bureaucracy only makes everything worse and eventually destroys itself, by expanding too far into areas it doesn’t belong in.
Look no further than the crisis-torn bureaucratic EU, going nowhere fast. Now, why would you wish to join it – to enhance and expand your power at the top, perhaps, and help legitimise your own corruption? I wonder if such Yanukovichean thoughts have ever occurred to Alex Salmond and the Edinburgh politico-elites...