Ukraine: The struggle for Europe (I)

At the annual security conference of Munich (Wehrkunde), which celebrated 50 years of existence last weekend, one of the most interesting moments of the event – honoured by the presence of major personalities of international relations over the last half-century, such as Henri Kissinger, Helmuth Schmidt, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Egon Bahr – was the confrontation between the representatives of the two camps currently in conflict in Ukraine. Moderated by the EU commissioner for Enlargement, St. Fuhle, the panel that gave the occasion of this confrontation was named “Global Power and Regional Stability: A Focus on Central and Eastern Europe” and included prestigious participants.

From Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security advisor of US president Jimmy Carter, – who honestly confessed in the first place that he is not neutral with regard to the problems of today’s Ukraine – to the president of Romania, Traian Basescu, who represented the difference between the former communist states outside the USSR and those on its territory in the process of regaining their own identity; from the representative of the Russian Duma, Leonid Slutski, according to whom the paradigm imposed by Brzezinski in the Western thinking in the perspective of the relation between Russia and Ukraine – the former is a global empire together with the latter, or a big regional power without it – must be overcome in order to consolidate the international security, to Irakli Garubashvili, the premier of Georgia, whose speech was praised by the Russian emissary. But, indisputably, all eyes were set on the clash between the two, the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kiev government, practically outgoing since January 28, Leonid Kozhara, and Vitali Klychko, the president of the opposition party Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms, over the current evolutions of Ukraine, equally geopolitical and social-political.
As announced by organisers, this panel was held at the last moment, actually answering an exigency of this prestigious conference, which is to put on debate the ongoing events with the biggest impact on the international security and with an unpredictable evolution. Or, besides the situation in the East China Sea or Mideast, or in other hot areas of the planet, Ukraine recommends itself as such.
Ever since 21 November 2013, when unexpectedly the president of the Ukrainian state, Victor Yanukovich, announced that he will renounce signing the accord for the association of his country to the European Union, planned to take place during the Vilnius summit of the Eastern Partnership (29 November 2013), Ukraine – and first of all its capital – started to get in motion. Each day after the summit, where Yanukovich resisted any demand made by European leaders to keep the course assumed before the surprise announcement of 21 November, invoking the severe economic crisis in his country that can only be solved with the financial support provided by Russia and negotiated by him (USD 15 bln), the Independence Square of the Ukrainian capital became the real heart of the country. The protesters, whose number sometimes reached a six-digit figure, occupied the square, pointing to the pro-European orientation of the majority of the nation and demanding the resignation of the government and president of the state, and the holding of new elections. The clash between protesters and security forces gradually escalated to violent fights, the occupation of public buildings by the protesters, dead and injured people. The EuroMaidan – as the square became known ‘urbi et orbi’ – acquired a military organisation with diverse orientations in the camp of the political opposition. What prevailed however was the European option of the protest, the categorical rejection of the Russian azimuth, which the state leadership had adopted by renouncing to sign the association accord with the EU. The EuroMaidan became the symbol of the independence and EU option courageously assumed by the Ukrainian nation, of the construction of a free, democratic society without oligarchs that dominate the public life affected by endemic corruption. Undoubtedly, the political views of this huge rally were diverse and contradictory, but what prevailed was the outright rejection of a new eastern obedience and, along with affirming the independence, the firm option for the EU. Much will be written, from now on, about this huge display of political energy in Kiev, its real or instrumented motives, the bad or interested influences from the country or abroad, the mobilising influence of the EuroMaidan in waking up the national conscience – similar rallies took place gradually in many regions of the country.
Near the end of January, the situation of Ukraine considerably worsened, reaching a moment when many spoke about the possibility of a civil war that would tear the country between a pro-European west and a pro-Russian east. The international community made an appeal to calm and dialogue, while the USA and EU demanded the government to stop the violent repression and warned foreign forces to cease their interference with the political evolutions of Ukraine. Especially after the government passed in Parliament a package of laws that condemned the protesters and restricted many civil freedoms, announcing the advent of an authoritarian regime, the reaction of protesters was more dynamic and expanded in the country, where government buildings were occupied by the revolted population. Confronted with this situation, President Yanukovich was forced to step back, imposed the resignation of the government and appealed to the opposition to participate in the governance. The EuroMaidan rejected these requests and demanded the resignation of the president and new elections.
This was the situation in Ukraine at the moment of the Klychko-Kozhara confrontation in Munich, on February 1st.
Kozhara presented Ukraine as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society – over 8 million Russians – so the EuroMaidan does not represent the will of the whole nation. At the same time, Nazi tendencies were manifest during the Kiev rally, and there is a grave peril of terrorists taking over the protest. The opinion of the Foreign minister of the outgoing government also included arguments in favour of the relation between the cabinet and Russia, because of economic reasons, getting rid of the crisis being one of the benefits. By contrast, he went on, signing the accord with the EU was not accompanied by the necessary support for saving the country. He rejected the assertions of the political opposition that the government used violent means, as groups of protesters infringed the law, occupied public buildings and attacked the security forces.
The answer of leader Klychko was calm and reasonable. He mentioned the road which the Ukrainian nation wants to take – the way of reform and of fighting the corruption that exhausts the society and hampers its democratic progress. The orientation of the acting government toward Russia was not present in his address. He only explained that releasing the detained protesters and holding new elections represents the only solution to the present crisis. During his dispute with his opponent, he presented to the audience an album proving the violence of officials against protesters. His speech was the most applauded address to the prestigious event of Munich. In a statement delivered outside this confrontation, the Ukrainian opposition demanded the West to adopt sanctions against the acting leadership in Kiev.
Which way Ukraine?

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