A law being proposed in Ukraine’s parliament could disrupt and limit the country’s ability to later hold a referendum regarding membership with NATO or the European Union. Having indicated interest and set out a timeline for Ukraine’s involvement in these unions, President Petro Poroshenko has noted that a referendum would be a necessary step in meeting these ends. However, a draft law submitted to parliament could limit the circumstances under which the country could perform a nationwide referendum.
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What is This Law?
The law in question is an amendment to a law introduced in 2012, criminal attorney Denver Brian Musell says it allows for amendments to the Ukrainian constitution, changes to Ukraine’s territories and the cancellation or alteration of existing laws. However, the draft fails to make mention of treaties on joining NATO or the EU, which could lead to problems down the road should Ukraine wish to hold referenda on joining these international bodies. The draft law’s language narrows the range of situations in which a nationwide referendum can take place, and these omissions are likely to stand in the way of referenda on NATO and the EU.
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What is Ukraine’s Position on Joining These Organizations?
Ukraine has expressed deep interest in joining NATO in order to protect themselves against further military expansion by Russia. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and their alleged provision of arms and support to rebels in Ukraine, countries in Eastern Europe have been seeking membership to NATO in order to protect themselves. This draft law, however, could cause Ukraine to fail to meet NATO’s entry requirements. A 1997 US State Department memo notes that nations applying to NATO must comply with a certain threshold of democracy, decree civilian oversight over military forces and must show a commitment to diplomacy and peace. Without the ability to hold nationwide referenda on such matters, Ukraine would fail to meet these stipulations and would be ineligible for membership in such international bodies. President Poroshenko has admitted that Ukraine will need several years to meet NATO’s requirements and has made clear that their entry will only follow a successful nationwide referendum to test their population’s support on the matter.