IWP and Romanian Center for European Policies have published a report “Narrowing the Perceptions Gap – Views from Kyiv and Bucharest”.The paper identifies and explains a number of negative perceptions and gives details about possible solutions which diplomats of the two capitals should take into account in order to move to a consistent bilateral agenda and to build a partnership based on strategic objectives.
Romania pays more attention to the relationship with Russia and seems to ignore its nearest neighbor, Ukraine, with which it shares common strategic interests. Unfortunately, the relationship between Romania and Ukraine seems to have remained captive to certain common misunderstandings, despite the strong strategic interests shared by the two parties.
Romanian Center for European Policies and the Institute of World Policy (Ukraine) organized in Bucharest, the Romania – Ukraine Civic Forum (May 2012), the first opportunity for Romanian and Ukrainian experts to look beyond the negative stereotypes, misperceptions and historical disputes and seek concrete proposals and areas of cooperation for Bucharest and Kiev.
Deepening relations between the two countries, overcoming or correcting negative perceptions, building or developing other dimensions of existing partnerships are some of the directions diplomats, experts and authorities in the two countries will have to build.
Europeanization of the Romania – Ukraine agenda is seen as a key concept for a consistent and fair cooperation in the future. Romania could come up with examples of best practices from EU and neighboring countries to correct some of the perceptions mentioned above. Debates could include elites of the two countries, especially because among them neutral perceptions regarding the bilateral relations were identified.
Building around the gaps: The minorities issue is the poisoning one in the bilateral agenda. Both Bucharest and Kyiv show interest in it but the official dialogue is deficient. We recommend therefore a neutral, external actor, to address this issue. This mediator could be the EU which also has a stake in solving minority problems.
Eastern Partnership – More efforts are necessary from Romanian diplomacy to position itself as an advocate within EU for other countries in the region (besides R. of Moldova). Ukraine is also very much interested in the solution of the frozen Transnistrian conflict on its border and this could be one of the key elements on the common agenda.
Regional cooperation – Romania should include Ukraine in its strategic partnership with Poland for deepening and consolidating a trilateral relation.
OSCE Chairmanship 2013 – Ukraine will come back in the international spotlight when taking over the OSCE Chairmanship in 2013 and Bucharest should encourage Kyiv into paying attention to Transnistrian conflict.
Full version of the Policy Memo here.