The visa-free regime for the Ukrainian citizens wishing to travel to the EU should have become the reform most tangible, concrete and visible for the ordinary Ukrainians. It could have overshadowed failures in all other areas of the country's modernization.
The implementation of this important aspiration of the Ukrainians, voiced long before the last Maidan Revolution, was supposed to play effectively into the hands of the authorities, as it focused on the half-dead Ukrainian middle class, people with more or less decent income (hence, educated citizens who have some influence among their entourage, their friends and neighbors). In fact, not so many Ukrainians can afford trips to Europe these days, especially considering the current rate of the euro.
The visa-free regime would have allowed to change the socio-political agenda, at least for some time. The authorities could have enjoyed a couple of calm months, before the public started demanding the real fight against corruption, cleansing the bureaucratic class and lustration of predecessors.
The guys who are now freezing in the trenches at the frontline, trying not to catch a terrorist sniper bullet, would have experienced that feeling, at least for a few days, that they really risk their lives and die for good reason: this is it, real change, the Ukrainian passport is now opening the door to Europe.
Meanwhile, in a warm and comfortable session hall in Parliament (which even presented a brand new childcare room recently), the MPs had so little to do in order to play their part in facilitating the visa-free regime (the rest has benn done by diplomats and lawyers): they just had to... click the button. Mainly, it's not about those who chose to squeeze out a few additional PR-points on this high-profile vote and did not support the bills; and it’s not even about the Opposition Bloc, which defied the move just to to annoy the majority. It’s really about those who failed to attend this Thursday session and those who, chosed to ignore the vote, while being present at the session hall.
Think about it: they don’t need to dig trenches in the frozen ground, there’s no need to stand in line to be paid a miserable pension, no need for any physical work like laying bricks or cleaning the sewers. They didn’t even have to think. It’s all been thought through, drafted and agreed. They just had to come to their working places on their working day, in their working hours, sit their butts in soft chairs and push the button.
...They failed to do it. They failed to do what they had promised to their voters when they campaigned, what they had pledged before our Western partners and donors, when begging for loans and financial aid. They failed to do what could have been the best illustration for the residents of the so-called "LPR / DPR" and Russian-annexed Crimea: life in Ukraine is changing for the better.
I’more than confident that some political scientists and experts will emerge shortly, telling us that the MPs have deliberately failed to adopt the"visa-free package of bills." The will say, a simple reason was need to explain why the visas are not canceled, as, quite frankly, the European Union is not eager to open its borders for the Ukrainians in the current situation; and if all the required bills were supported, and the visa-free regime – still denied, it could provoke tremendous public disappointment in Ukraine’s European prospects.
There’s just one thing here. Europe doesn’t preach to the wind, and, had Ukraine followed all the required procedures, the visas would eventually be canceled. Another question is that it’s likely the authorities would fail to fulfill the whole set of the EU requirements for obtaining the visa-free regime. For example, let’s take obligations to fight corruption. By the way, this nuance seems to be a more or less realistic cause of intentional failure in Parliament’s work. Just imagine, Europe would praise the positive vote and then go on asking about the fight against corruption… Where is this fight? Such a cause for the European borders remaining closed for the Ukrainians would hit the authorities really bad.
In any case, the public was cynically deceived, once again. Explanations proposed to the public somehow evoke sad associations with the catch phrase [by ex-MP from the Party of Regions, who later allegedly committed suicide, Mykhailo Chechetov, voiced when his faction brazenly violated procedural requirements to push through the Rada a controversial law on languages]: "We tricked them like kittens."
What’s up, reformers?..
Mykhailo Gannytskyi is a Chief Editor at UNIAN