Thursday, September 22, 2011

Only one choice for Ukraine

I really liked Vitaliy Pornikov's latest analytic article in 'Lyeviy Bereg' so I thought I would [loosely] translate portions:

Winter time has come early to Ukraine. Although it will not be cold for several months we are witnessing the first signs of social unrest at home and tough ultimatums from neighbours abroad...

Europe, and the West in general want little from Viktor Yanukovych - just a bit of sanity.

Our European partners do not want to encroach on the Yanukovych government's authority or on the decision-making mechanisms in the country. In actual fact they have closed their eyes to the constitutional coup which took place after the incumbent won the last presidential election - the Europeans explain all this away as mere growing pains.

But they can not, and will not be able to accept the demonstrative limitations on freedom of speech, and the destruction of the political opposition using judicial levers. We should not have illusions about this.

If the criminal case against Tymoshenko is not terminated the Europeans will not sign anything with Kyiv that would even allow any talk of a conditional presence of Ukraine in the European club. And this is a sound decision on their part, primarily in the interests of Ukraine, and then in the interest of Europe.

Such a decision shows the Ukrainian authorities that if they want to sell the products of local oligarchs in European markets, if it want to crash their cars outside Monte Carlo casinos [as a daughter of one high-up Ukrainian official did recently], and if it wish to continue to sunbathe in the best resorts and rub shoulders in high society circles they will have to give way and stop raping the country over which they have inherited control. This is what they were trying to explain to Yanukovich in Yalta.

And this is precisely what neither Yanukovych nor Ukrainian politicians can understand - that the question of values cannot be compromised, at least not in public.

The people who have to sign agreements with Yanukovych are accountable to their fellow citizens. Elected deputies who have to ratify any agreements in local parliaments are accountable to their constituents and these voters have a clear idea about what is good and what is bad. Europeans have a conscience. That's why what happened at Yalta should be considered a terrible embarrassment for Ukraine.

When European officials were trying to explain to Yanukovych is that on questions of values there cannot be any compromise. Ukrainian policians, who are supposed to be protecting the interests of their European-minded voters, were demanding their Western interlocutors commit political suicide by signing an agreement with a country that ignores the basic values the European Union. This is a clear indication of the political immaturity of Ukraine - its lack of readiness not only to join the EU, but even to get close.

Russia [on the other hand] wants far more from Yanukovich than Europe does - the surrender of the country's economy, its gas transport system, and its strategically important businesses.

Viktor Federovych will not succeed and get Medvedev and Putin to change track. But this certainly does not mean that if Ukraine does not now make any concessions to its European partners and does not 'stumble' into Europe, it will finish up in Russia's 'zone of influence'.

In reality no such 'zone' exists. Russia, cannot come to any agreement, even with its partners in the Customs Union, Belarus and Kazakhstan, so what talk can there be about Ukraine?

Russian zone of influence? It's Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, but even there Moscow cannot work with the local leaders. And Ukraine is so much bigger.

Russia simply has no money to sponsor Ukraine, so cannot significantly reduce the price of gas.

Yanukovich absolutely does not need to be a Russian governor of Ukraine. He does not have the technical ability to be this, and his oligarchs will oppose any restriction to their possibilities for trade. Then there is the membership of Ukraine in the World Trade Organisation, and Ukrainian authorities indeed want to head in the European direction.

Medvedev and Putin do not understand this. We are fortunate that during a period of absolute weakness amongst the Ukrainian authorities Russia is run by people of an equally poor intellectual potential who sincerely believe that any normal person considers Ukraine to be merely 'a misunderstanding' which should be integrated back into the imperial structure.

So they will not seek compromise with Yanukovych, they will pressurise him and humiliate him, and he, already considering himself to be a tsar, will fly into a rage and not agree to anything, so we should forget about the myth of a choice between Europe and Russia which, supposedly, the Ukrainian authorities have to take.

We should just support the efforts of our European friends who are trying to prevent our country's slide into authoritarian morass. It's as simple as that....

p.s. On Saturday Yanukovych flies to Moscow to try and get a better gas deal - Medvedev is going to play hard-ball and the chances of success for Yanukovych, as stated by Valeriy Portnikov above, are slim. What some have called the 'Russian vacuum cleaner' is getting harder to resist - but closer ties with the EU would have provided a hand-hold.

Now, according to Ukraine's arrogant leaders it is the fault of the Europeans' that things are going wrong there too..

Former President Viktor Yushchenko recently warned in the 'WSJ' that the European Union's reluctance to offer a clear path to membership puts Ukraine at risk of falling into Russia's orbit and style of governance. [Nothing to do then with erosion of democracy and indications of political repression in Ukraine...of course not...not at all...]

Now 'walking disaster' adviser to the President, Hanna Herman believes that the European Union should offer a hand and give Ukraine a clear signal of future EU membership too.

"We see our future in the European home. In the home - not in the entrance hallway. And if our Western partner will not give us a clear signal that the doors to the European lounge are open, we need to think firmly: what we gain from kicking our heels in the hallway? " said Herman.

She added: "..We hope our western partner will give us a hand, and that Ukraine will accept this hand...Ukraine stands before a choice, and from its choice possibly depends all of the future of the geopolitical map of the continent."

She must have had her head up her arse not to have heard the 'clear signals' in Yalta...and perphaps read too many interior design magazines like 'House and Home' on the flight home...

1 comment:

Vasyl said...

I came across your blog via another blogger Veronika... who posted links to both our blogs on Global Voices.

Now I don't know if this was intentional on your part, or just a strange slip up.

You left out the letter "T" in Vitaliy Portnikov's family name, thus making him Pornikov... It read kind of funny to me!

Cheerz, have a great weekend.

Vasyl