Monday, February 10, 2014

The EU's role in Ukraine's problems

This is still not a long posting about Ukraine but I noticed that at least one person has said something I've been saying almost since the Ukrainian events began: the EU is of no relevance to anything that happens in that country. President Yanukovich's refusal to initial the trade agreement last year may well have triggered off the first demonstrations but it all developed into a general discontent with the government, the political system, the corruption and the general dysfunctionality of the country. The fact that there are demonstrations and discontents in the east of the country, in the areas that are generally pro-Russian and where Yanukovich was supposed have a great deal of support is indicative of that.

Fortunately for my self-esteem the person voicing similar opinions is Andrey Kurkov, Ukraine's best and funniest modern novelist, whose political satire, Death and the Penguin, captured readers' imagination in many parts of the world.

According to him, the not-so fragrant Cathy Ashton, the High Panjandrum of EU foreign policy is not known in Ukraine at all and nobody hears of her shuttling back and forth, repeatedly announcing a break-through or lack of one.
“There is not much information about their visits and most people don’t know who they are. Among those who do know, quite a lot of them think they do not take Ukraine seriously, that they come here to show their own public that they care about what’s going on,” he said.

He noted the EU diplomats get coverage almost exclusively on internet media.
All of that is true enough but the question remains: exactly what can the EU do to sort out what is an internal Ukrainian crisis growing out of the country's internal problems? Individually, we can support the opposition, assuming we know what they want but will that make any difference? The question Ukraine faces comes in two parts: will it be Russia's colony or will it be an independent democracy that looks to the West while, obviously, not losing her links with Russia, an impossibility in any case: and, secondly, will it be another post-Soviet autocracy like almost all the successor states or will it finally become what it should always have been:a constitutional democracy that relies on the rule of law? Where, in all that, is the European Union?

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