Kiev’s new turn: time to reset the Romania – Ukraine relationship

Coperta Ucraina Romania reset in relatia bilateralaPolicy Memo 53, CRPE March 2014, Authors: Cristian GHINEA, Bianca TOMA


The Romanian Center for European Policies has launched the policy paper “Kiev’s new turn: the necessity to reset the Romania – Ukraine relationship” written by Cristian Ghinea and Bianca Toma. The change of power in Kiev, the new regional crisis and the signing by Ukraine of the EU Association Agreement (the political provisions) in Brussels provide incentives for a new turn in the relationship between Romania and Ukraine.

The relationship between Kiev and Bucharest has been a fragile one in the last couple of years, even tense on several topics of the bilateral agenda. The crisis in Crimea and the explicit military threat of Russia changes the internal debate in Ukraine and regional context. The need for a reset in the bilateral relation has been debated both in Bucharest and Kiev. Given the importance of the topic, CRPE has conducted a consultation with experts and former and current Romanian diplomats who attended the Romania Ukraine Forum (2012 and 2014 editions), independent experts and journalists.

 „Dismantling or federalizing Ukraine would mean that Romania would have, once more, a common border with Russia at the mouth of the Danube, through the military region of Odessa. Regardless the future orientation of the power in Kiev, Romania needs to maintain the incentives for a proper relationship”

„Romania should aim to act as a facilitator, along with Poland, in order to support the European path of Ukraine, thus improving its degree of national security”

„Identifying of a joint cooperation agenda that could move beyond the historical hotspots (maritime boundary, the Snake Island, Bastroe, Romanian communities rights, Krivoi Rog)”

The CRPE’s consultation was a consensus seeking process, with the Romanian experts proposing new topics and perspectives to the official bilateral agenda. Three former Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Romania responded to our invitation and eight more experts on the Eastern area and foreign policy from Bucharest and Brussels joined the debate. We thank them for all their input and the added value they provided for our study. The answers were collected through a self administered questionnaire, encompassing 26 questions, 15 with an open answer, thus giving the experts the possibility to express their own views, unconstrained by pre defined answers.

The co authors of this report have attempted to synthesize these views, identifying the common ground and the boundary lines. As such, we propose some principles that should be the backbone of a relation reset between Bucharest and Kiev, as it should be addressed by Romania:

1. An Eastern regional policy should not ignore the importance of Ukraine

2. More substance should be given to the partnership with Poland

3. Common projects with Ukraine are needed inside the European framework

4. Energy – common interests should lead to common projects

5. The Romanian minority in Ukraine will benefit from a new turn in the relationship, not from the actual gridlock

6. Romanian citizenship – different views, dialogue is needed

7. Proactive stand in order to settle the different views on the agenda. Multilateral formats where there are no bilateral solutions

A broad approach concerning these principles, along with the recommendations from the experts can be found in the full (Romanian) version of the report, available here.

The study is part of Ukraine Romania Civic Forum project, 2nd edition, financed by the Official Assistance Development program and implemented together with UNDP Bratislava.