The Constitution as a pre-election instrument of the President

The President suggests that the parliament amend the Constitution and entrench the strategic external course towards NATO/EU in our Basic Law.

We should have no surprises and illusions here. For Ukrainian politicians of the old formation, the Constitution has never been and will not be a law and a guide. That’s why it is so easy to play with it. Sometimes it is successful, sometimes no – but the fact remains.

Petro Poroshenko does not lag behind his predecessors in this matter. He wants to change the Constitution to consolidate power in his hands (whether through the so-called judicial reform, or attempts to introduce a prefecture institution that could destroy local self-government), he does not mind losing a part of our sovereignty (through granting special status to certain regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions). But the incumbent president has even gone further than his predecessors: changes in the Constitution has become an element of the election campaign.

Accordingly, questions arise as to the sincerity of Peter Poroshenko’s recent intentions to change the Basic Law. Because if the intentions are real, then they should have been implemented at the beginning of his cadence, and not at the end, when other candidates for the presidency loudly promise the new Constitution to the people.

Now to the point.

The stages of joining NATO look as follows:

  1. Invitation of the applicant country by the member countries to accession negotiations.
  2. Sending letters of intent.
  3. Signing of the protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of Accession by ministers of foreign affairs of the member countries.
  4. Ratification of the protocols
  5. The entering country’s implementation of its own, provided by the legislation, procedures (ratification).
  6. The transfer of instruments of entry to the US government by the entering country.

Ukraine has not achieved any of these stages yet.

In 2005, following a joint meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, a decision was made to invite Ukraine to an Intensified Dialogue with NATO, which was supposed to cover membership issues and the reform programs for joining the Alliance.

However, in 2010 the commission was liquidated by Yanukovych, as well as the prospects for joining the Alliance.

Today, Ukraine is among the 4 candidates for joining NATO. However, such status is informal and does not entail actual consequences for the country. After all, according to the rules of the treaty with NATO (the procedure for entry is regulated by Article 10), the following procedures must be observed:

  1. Invitation for Ukraine from member countries.
  2. Drafting of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine. The plan’s mechanisms are practical and outlined in five sections: political and economic issues (respect for democracy, freedom of individuals, annual report on macroeconomic and budgetary data), defence and military issues (checking the ability of the applicant countries to make their respective military contribution), the issue of resources (new members of the Alliance should allocate a sufficient amount of budgetary funds to be able to fulfill all the obligations that the future membership requires), security issues, legal issues (applicant countries need to carefully analyse their domestic legislation for its compatibility with NATO regulations; upon receiving an invitation, countries should join a number of agreements related to NATO activities).
  3. The next step is the implementation of the MAP. However, even this does not mean that there will be some deadlines for making decisions on accession or any guarantee that eventually membership will become a reality.

So the member states are required to implement the action plan and ensure the maximum compatibility of their domestic legislation with NATO regulations. However, there are no requirements concerning changes in the Constitution. Given this and given the historical lessons of the country, the arguments of the initiators of the changes to the Constitution are weak and unconvincing. After all, in our country, we have had too many examples, when the politicians of the old formation radically changed their positions, despite the Constitution or, on the contrary, even manipulating it, for the sake of their own mercantile interests.

The conclusion is one and only. Ukraine needs a new leader. Someone, for whom the Constitution is really the Basic Law, someone who will be its unconditional Guarantor.

Roman Semenuha
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