Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why Ukraine's problems are a cause for optimism

Excerpts below from an article in RFE/RL entitled "Colored Revolutions: High Hopes And Broken Promises"

"Some consider the Ukrainian east-west divide to the be a source of internal weakness. But others, such as Georgian political commentator Bakur Kvashilava, argue that it holds the benefit of laying the groundwork for the establishment of democratic principles and procedures.

"Such regional disagreements complicate governance of a country, of course," Kvashilava says. "But long-term, as history and other examples teach us, if two opposing sides can agree on one fundamental issue -- that Ukraine must be integral and undivided, for instance -- then chances are they will also agree on a second fundamental issue, that the only correct path for coming to power is the democratic one -- elections, referendums."
There has been a clear effort to solve all political crises -- no matter how acute -- through negotiation and accommodation in post-Orange Revolution Ukraine. For Kvashilava, this indicates that democratic procedures are finally taking root in the country's political culture, creating a telling contrast with Georgia.

"In Georgia, as the recent events demonstrated, it was absolutely legitimate and acceptable for the population, as well as some representatives of the opposition, to call for the president's resignation, [the opposition's] assumption of power, 'saving the people' and so on," Kvashilava says. "The majority of protesters applauded these slogans -- and this indicates that democracy, as the only way of life, in Georgia has not been established as firmly as in Ukraine."

Ukraine's regional and linguistic diversity has also served as a basis for less radical shifts in foreign policy. While in Georgia most political forces -- and certainly the one in power -- are openly pro-Western and have expressed the desire to distance Georgia from Russia's influence, Ukrainian politicians have been more restrained and cautious.

"The checks and balances that exist in Ukraine, because of various divisions within the country, meant the Ukrainian government, while it was always very keen on close relationship with NATO, was never able to go flat out and seek NATO membership, or the initial Membership Action Plan," Redman of the Economist Intelligence Unit explains. "Whereas Saakashvili has had a very free hand in Georgia, and was able to do that. So he was more out-and-out pro-Western, pro-NATO, than the Ukrainians ever managed."

But that approach has come back to bite Georgia in another sense, as it served to strain further its already deteriorating relationship with Russia and has fueled aggressive rhetoric by Russian politicians who can't afford to show the same hostility to Ukraine, lest they risk alienating Russian-speaking Ukrainians."

LEvko's observation is that Russian politicians have already alienated many Russian-speaking Ukrainians over several years now, and continue to do so by their overbearing attitude. Ukrainian politicians and businessmen will not be cowed by those from the north. They know them too well - know all their games - they all used to pi** into the same pot in the days of the Union.

Ukraine and Russia are now much different countries - and the blue water between them is widening..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if two opposing sides can agree on one fundamental issue -- that Ukraine must be integral and undivided ...

Unfortunately this is a big if and has not been exhibited by BYT and PoR in their actions as they seem to think that Ukraine may not NEED to be undivided. Who now is singing the tune in power: East and West together? No one has ripped up the map as yet, because it is not to their advantage to do so, but there come a day when it is decided it is better to "rule in hell, than serve in heaven."