September 13. the group of ruling coalition's deputies of the Seimas of Lithuania (social democrats, the labour party members and members of "Order and Justice") registered a draft resolution, calling Kiev to release Yulia Tymoshenko. This requirement is issued as an indispensable condition of signing the Agreement on association with EU at the November summit of "Eastern partnership" in Vilnius. Europe couldn't remain such a step of Lithuanian parliamentarians unnoticed. According to German political scientist Alexander Rahr, the question of Tymoshenko's release is priority for the German authorities, because it is necessary for real, instead of declarative reform of the Ukrainian law-enforcement system and withdrawal from selective justice. Still the Lithuanian diplomacy was limited only to translation of all wishes, and, of coarse, it affected growth of disappointment of the Ukrainian society in soft EU policy of compromise in relation to V. Yanukovych's system. Now EU offers Kiev to define: Tymoshenko's further detention won't allow Ukraine to move towards eurointegration. In this regard it is necessary to recognize that the Lithuanian diplomacy showed a maturity and readiness to reject its own ideas of restructuring processes on the post-Soviet space. The German political scientist Mr. Alexandr Rahr, has told in his interview to analytical portal RuBaltic.Ru whether the resolution of the Lithuanian deputies will be supported by the top management of the country (including. and president Dalia Grybauskaite), and also how it will be treated in Berlin, one of the main capitals of EU.
- Mr.Rahr, how can you estimate the readiness of EU to sign the Agreement on association with Ukraine at the Vilnius summit of EaP?
- EaP is a very ambitious project of EU. But, from my point of view, it was conceived without connection with Russia. That is strategically and even geopolitically wrong. EaP was born after the Georgian war in 2008 to help such countries as Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Armenia to leave the Russian orbit and to get closer to the West. It is wonder now, how successful was this policy.
I think that it didn't achieve much success. The European union was too weak, it didn't have rather political will, financial opportunities really "to pull out" these countries from the Russian influence.
But also at Russia didn't get more forces and opportunities to offer these countries successful integration model in the East too. The Customs union isn't ready too.
While it is very difficult to answer specifically the question about Ukraine. Heavy parliament fighting is conducted in the European union now. On the one hand, in this fight participate so-called "geopolitics" who say that it is necessary to sign the agreement with Ukraine so that "East partnership" achieves any success, because signing of documents with other countries is postponed for even more time.
In the European union there is another very strong fraction which fights for purity of liberal values. The fact that Tymoshenko is imprisoned is a rough violation of all political rules and the whole legal system of Ukraine for that fraction. Tymoshenko is considered to be political prisoner. Therefore there are very influential politicians in the West which won't sign or will strongly oppose signing the Agreement on association with Ukraine if Yulia Tymoshenko isn't let out for treatment to Europe.
With all this it's a pity, that Russia and the European union couldn't come to the common neighbourhood. There were illusions that the neighboring countries of Russia, and the neighboring countries of the European union will be able to become the general platform of interaction between the European Union and Russia. But we are farther from it now, than even ten years before.
- Throughout your thought: as I understand, in the countries of "old" Europe "East partnership" is perceived as a general platform with Russia? Lithuanian experts and politicians often speak about the partnership as a mechanism of "controlling" Russia. For example, Dalia Grybauskaite called all three Baltic countries buffer in relationships with Russia after a meeting with the U.S.A. President Barack Obama …
- I think, that such point of view takes place in countries of Eastern Europe. It was very typical for Poland, but, I emphasize the past tense – it was. The concept of the buffer states has really chanched in Poland. Poland doesn't want to have a curtain on the eastern borders again.
Three Baltic republics are so connected to American interests that sometimes I don't know if they really share the European consensus. They are the closest allies of America which support all what America tells.
I think that their position isn't supported by all the members of EU. Certainly, there are people who think in the same geopolitical measures – I called them before. But at the same time many influential political forces (May be, there are less of them in America, but more in Europe) understand that it will be impossible to build Europe without stable relations with Russia or against it. Certainly, it should be admitted that the idea about common European home is much less popular today, than fifteen years before. Then it seemed to be possible, seemed like just a matter of time. But it doesn't mean that Europe wants to jostle Russia to Asia. It's difficult to say already, what of two lines will prevail. And, by the way, it depends on Russia too.
- You have mentioned that Lithuania relates to "fraction of geopoliticians" of Eastern Europe. It is important for them to move the countries of "East partnership" out of Russian influence in any way. Meanwhile, this Friday 24 deputies of ruling coalition registered in the Lithuanian Seimas the draft resolution with the requirement of Tymoshenko's release and an appeal not to sign the Agreement on association of Ukraine with EU till the release of the oppositionist. How do you estimate such a step of the Lithuanian leaders?
-It should be mentioned here that it is only part of deputies in Lithuania. President Dalia Grybauskaite which you have mentioned before, looks at this question in a differently.
I will repeat, the groups which think from the point of view of values are very strong in Europe. Therefore I think that other countries can follow this Lithuanian initiative. In Germany, for example, madam Merkel unambiguously declared that Tymoshenko should be let out. I think that now there will be new unprecedented pressure upon the president Yanukovych with the requirement to let out Tymoshenko because people in Europe already starts irritating that because of one Yulia Tymoshenko all concept "Eastern partnership" can simply fail.
If the contract isn't signed with Ukraine? With whom should it be signed? Then all this "Eastern partnership" hangs in air.
Certainly, east partners will be blamed for it. But any smack remains in EU: that the union was weak-willed or insufficiently strong, perspicacious. Therefore Europe rescues itself now and it is necessary to continue this partnership.
- What position does dominate in Germany: completely to release Tymoshenko or it is enough to transfer her for treatment to Germany?
- I see no difference between the first and the second. I think, the majority of the German politicians doesn't excite, in what case Yulia Tymoshenko will be released from prison,. I believe, she can be treated in Ukraine, in Germany, America. The main condition which is exposed by Germany – that the leader of opposition as Yulia Tymoshenko is considered, wouldn't be in prison.
In Germany, of course, there are politicians who consider that sooner or later Tymoshenko will be let out: if not this year, a bit later, because the justice system in Ukraine will be changed, laws on which she was imprisoned, will be changed therefore it would be possible to sign association now. But it not point of view of the top management.
Therefore it is necessary to wait still that will be at the end of November. Till this time all can happen. Up to Tymoshenko's release in anticipation of the summit in Vilnius.
- In Europe, you have told, many people irritate that one person prevents the development of the whole program "East partnership". Some politicians in Lithuania also hold the opinion that the destiny of one person shouldn't affect eurointegration of all country. But how do you consider, whether it will be possible to consider the November summit of "East partnership" successful if the Agreement is signed with Ukraine without real democratization of a Yanukovych mode? In particular, without Tymoshenko's release?
- I consider that Tymoshenko was imprisoned in vain. Certainly, it is proved that she had corruption communications, but she was jailed because she signed the contract with Russia on gas. And here everything looks very politized and confused.
Certainly, it is very difficult to European union to sign the Agreement on association with Ukraine from the moral point of view. This association is not only economic – it has also political, ideological and moral component. Both parties promise to work over the common cultural problems.
And how does it look before the whole world when doors in the European union open to the country, where the head of opposition who was a prime minister, despite all her errors, is in prison?
I don't understand why the Ukrainian authorities doesn't declare amnesty because in this way it would open all doors to the west at once. But on the other hand, as far as Ukraine will win, after signing this Agreement on association, is a question too. After all it isn't matter of others - in the east or in the West. The destiny of Ukraine is decided by Ukrainians at home. And we understand that the people in Ukraine are still split: very large part wants get to the West faster, to be removed from Russia, and very large part of the Ukrainians living in the East, don't want to the Russian empire, but they also don't want to lose cultural and economic connections to Russia. And in the short-term plan the Ukrainian economy, of course, will win much more if it is connected with Russian, with the Euroasian economic space, than with European. But in average and long-term prospect Ukraine will win from joining to the enormous market of the European union and will receive the European norms by means of which will fight more simply against internal corruption and create legal base for better functioning of economy.
I think, in long-term prospect the Ukrainian diplomacy could influence Russia, Euroasian union, so that it looks for the associated status with the European union or the European union looks for the associated status with the Euroasian union. Then all this problem with Ukraine, which we have told about all this time, disappears.