Ukraine has today included in its constitution its aspiration to one day join the European Union and NATO in a vote deemed “historic” by President Petro Poroshenko.
Parliament passed the bill in the final reading with 334 deputies out of 450 voting in favour, exceeding the minimum of 300 needed to make a change to the Constitution.
“It’s a historic day!” Poroshenko said before the vote. The text adds to the Constitution references to “the strategic orientation of Ukraine towards full membership of the EU and NATO”, obliging the executive and legislative powers to work in this direction.
It marks “the irreversibility of our European choice”, welcomed after the vote the speaker of the Parliament, Andriï Paroubiï.
According to the amendments, the powers of the Ukrainian parliament now include “implementing the state’s strategic course for obtaining full membership of Ukraine in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”
The President and Cabinet of Minister are also tasked with delivering on the objective.
According to some observers, the move to put Ukraine’s NATO and EU ambitions on a constitutional footing can be explained by Porochenko’s desire to block any attempt to change Kiev’s geopolitical course in the event of the victory of a candidate that is better disposed towards Russia.
Others see it as a communications operation by the Head of State, who is far from certain to win the 31 March presidential election.
Opinion polls put him behind Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Relations between Ukraine and Russian are at their lowest ebb since Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula five years ago, followed by a war with pro-Russian separatists that has claimed close to 13,000 lives and continues to simmer in the east of the country.