FORMER ITALIAN PM PRODI: UKRAINE AND EU MUST BUILD A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

Interfax Ukraine on June 19, 2013, reported that Ukraine is now on the road that other former Soviet-bloc countries travelled a decade ago, and step-by-step it is fulfilling the conditions set by the EU for the signing the association agreement with the European Union, former Italian Prime Minister (1996-1998 and 2006-2008) and former European Commission President Romano Prodi has said. Excerpts below:

“It’s rare for world leaders to have the chance to pragmatically achieve an idealistic goal, to unite bold dreams and careful statesmanship at the same time. Yet such an opportunity is now upon us, as the time for the European Union and Ukraine to come closer together, to create a bridge between east and west, is at hand,” Prodi wrote in a guest post in the Financial Times newspaper.

He said that in 2004, he oversaw the largest single enlargement of the European Union in its history when ten new member states joined the EU, mainly from the former Soviet bloc, and added that those same states are now “bulwarks of Europe.”

“If Europe’s leaders take this opportunity, Ukraine is clearly determined to be even more – a catalyst for Europe, a bridge to Russia, and a testament to European values in its own right,” Prodi said.

He also said that “economically, its 46m industrious, educated workers, its strong industrial export industries and its enormous agriculture sector can help revitalize Europe in the face of economic stagnation and turmoil.”

“Kyiv recently agreed to observer status in the Moscow-backed customs union of former Soviet republics. We understand that Kyiv is the cradle of Russian civilization…

“Yet this is exactly the moment to build stronger links between Ukraine and Europe. Kyiv wants a European future, and its ties of blood, history, creed, and modern treaties are the materials from which a bridge between Europe and Russia can be built to endure. Ukraine can be a channel for European values and ties that will work to decrease mutual suspicion and build a more lasting peace,” he added.

“Before us today is an opportunity that may not present itself again soon: to bring Ukraine closer to Europe through trade, travel, culture and a self-reinforcing commitment to the rule of law… Sound geopolitics and a hope for a better future for Europe and Ukraine together demand that we seize this strategic opportunity,” Prodi said.

 

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