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Europeans about Ukraine: Wide Range of Opinions

Natalia MEDEN | 01.02.2014 | 11:46

The dramatic events in Ukraine cause sorrow and pain. The concessions on the part of the government have not become a turning point to move the situation away from crisis. Could the spiral of violence unleashed by rebels be stopped and what is the price for ending the escalation? 

Polish newspaper Polska Codziennie (1), made no bones about it suggesting that the European Union should impose sanctions against Ukraine. But what could sanctions do if the maidan rampage has been lasting on for two months already and the gap the country may fall into keeps on widening? The prospects for crisis management are murky, so Standard & Poor's has lowered the Ukraine’s rating and even suggested that in case Yanukovych goes, a new leadership may refuse to redeem the debts already granted. 

As yet the US has only gone as far as to consider the possibility to annul visas of some Ukrainian officials, who, according to the United States, are responsible for violence against the protesters. Canada followed. The only difference - it makes no distinction and wants to annul the visas for all officials of Ukraine. Poland believes these measures are not biting, so it calls for imposing economic sanctions. Warsaw is trying to portray itself as someone who protects Ukrainian people from Moscow, so it’s not anti-Ukraine sanctions what it is calling for, but rather punitive actions against Moscow. The editors of Polska Codziennie believe the list of Magnitsky is not enough, it should be added by anti-Russia steps. 

Czech media holds an opinion that Ukraine is nearing self-destruction as a state, so it wants the European Union to help the opposition take power; the task is to give the Ukrainian government a chance to leave with dignity. (2) The Czech Republic does not want the repetition of Syrian scenario on European soil. 

On January 30 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a damning resolution on the current political crisis in Ukraine, titled «The functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine». The draft was initiated by Estonia and Sweden. An open letter on the future of Ukraine appeared mainly signed by Polish citizens. (3) It provocatively affirms that the decision to suspend the signing of the association agreement jeopardized…the integrity of the EU. Aside from Poles, the letter is signed by Americans, Canadians, Israelis Turks and citizens of some other EU member-states. There is only one lady from Serbia who put her signature on – political activist Sonja Licht, who worked for George Soros in the 1990s and is on the Rockefeller Foundation’s payroll at present. Polentz is one of five Germans who put their signatures on. He has led Atlantic Community in Germany for more than ten years. The project is launched to propagate NATO activities. Polentz is a member of the American Initiative Advisory Board. The organization's goal is to «educate» elite in the spirit of US-German friendship

Ukraine was on the Bundestag agenda on January 31. The events in the country are constantly on the radar screen. Political parties offer different, sometimes even confronting views. The Christian Democrats believe the maidan protesters are fighters for freedom and human rights (Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker (4)), while the Left Party is convinced that it should be declared in no uncertain terms that Germany is to have nothing in common with right wing nationalists and extremists because they are not fighters for freedom but rather the people who want freedom be buried. (Wolfgang Gerke (5))

Former coordinator for German-Russian co-operation Andreas Shockenhoff (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) accused Russia of exerting pressure on Ukraine. He believes the situation has drastically changed during the last two months. Now the European Union needs a new strategy to facilitate Ukraine’s rapprochement with Europe. He thinks now it’s not enough to say the door is open and the EU is ready to sign the agreement. (6) Chancellor Angela Merkel has the final word. She wants a balanced stance. On the one hand, she expresses support for using all means available to support “just demands» put forward by opposition closely aligning her policy with Catherine Ashton. On the other hand, she believes Eastern Partnership members should not face a choice between the European Union and Russia. (7) Merkel reiterates the readiness to sigh the association agreement, but, unlike Shockenhoff, she has no intent to create illusions. Shockenhoff says Ukraine can join the European Union according to article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty. It’s worth to note that the article contains no obligations to grant membership, but rather to gives a right to send an application for joining to the European Council. It makes one think Mr. Shockenhoff does not remember clearly what the article says. 

He uses the Bundestag podium to make calls for intensifying economic cooperation with Ukraine meaning the collective efforts with the International Monetary Fund. There is nothing new here. The opinion of business circles is ignored. Eckhard Cordes (8), President, Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, clearly formulated the position of German business on Ukraine. He stressed that Russia’s factor is to be taken into account while assessing the Ukrainian situation. Eckhard Cordes is calling for three-party (Ukraine - the European Union – Russia) talks. He takes a firm stand against dividing Europe into economic blocks. According to him, if Europe wants to remain relevant in the next twenty years it should adopt global thinking. It needs a closely integrated European space, including Russia. No matter the wide range of opinions among German politicians, this realistic look gives a hope that Berlin will keep away from confrontational approach on Ukraine…

(1) Tomasz Sakiewicz. Sankcje dla Putina/ Gazeta Polska Codziennie, 24.01.2014.
(2) Luboš Palata. Ukrajina je na pokraji sebevraždy. Je třeba jednat/ Zprávy 27. ledna 2014.
(3) An open letter on the future of Ukraine.
(6) Same
(7) Same
(8) Eckhard Cordes: «Russland muss Faktor in Ukraine bleiben»/, 30 Januar 2014
Tags: European Union Germany Poland Ukraine

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