“The citizen, and his or her rights and conditions for development are at the heart of the Association Agreement with the European Union,” stressed Jan Tombiński, head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, during the September 10 launch of the Ukraine-wide “Stronger Together” information campaign at the Ukrainian National Philharmonic in Kyiv.
The aim of the campaign is to raise public awareness of the opportunities the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), offers to Ukraine. It will highlight the possible benefits and challenges of the Association Agreement and DCFTA to the Ukrainian economy, business, civil society, youth, and ordinary citizens.
Outlining the benefits the Association Agreement could bring to the whole of Ukraine, Tombiński said it would strengthen democracy, local self-government and rule of law. “Ukraine is getting a chance to strengthen its sovereignty through a strategy of development offered by association with the EU,” the diplomat emphasized, adding that the agreement, “does not threaten Ukraine’s distinctiveness and national identity.”
Moreover, the deal, according to Tombiński, will not hamper Ukraine’s co-operation with neighboring countries. “The EU does not impose decisions on Ukraine that may damage relations with its biggest neighbors, including with Russia,” he explained. On the contrary, Russia may benefit from the stability and growth resulting from the EU-Ukraine relationship, he added.
Andriy Olefirov, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, added that by moving ahead towards the Agreement, Ukraine commits itself to implementing a broad reform agenda. The campaign will therefore contribute to raising public support for the reforms and for Ukraine’s choice to associate with the EU, and eventually promote the country’s “entry into European political, economic, legal, and cultural space,” he said.
When it comes to business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, DCFTA is seen as a gateway to the European market, says Hennadiy Chizhykov, president of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to Chizhykov, for Ukrainian entrepreneurs, the agreement will open up access to EU funds, improve the investment climate, contribute to expanding business contacts, and boost modernization and transformation.
“Stronger together” is a Ukraine-wide information campaign to raise public awareness of the opportunities and benefits that the Association Agreement, including its DCFTA element, offers Ukraine. Supported by the public, it also aims to promote political association and economic integration between the EU and Ukraine as one of the main objectives of the country’s foreign policy.