By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
The Eastern Partnership of the EU is indeed a thrilling subject today. While Belarus and Azerbaijan, due to their domestic system elements, will not be more than spectators, Armenia has been subject to strange pressure by Russia which tried successfully to play Azerbaijan against Armenia which is sensible in the Nagorno Karabakh issue – and the strangest aspect of this is that Armenia’s parliamentary democracy will need some more development, as the National Assembly which was ready to sign the Association Agreement after almost four years of negotitions after their end on 24.7.2013 today does not want to see the draft any more.
Moldova and Georgia – the latter because it is immune now against Russian pressure, as it cut its involvement with Russia-led CIS after a short armed conflict in 2008 – will sign an Association Agreement with the EU, following the Partnership & Cooperation Agreements from the late 1990s. Moldova and Georgia will thus end up in the political and economic system the EU creates even if this one had not the intention to implement it, as the EU Single Market, the social system of the EU and the rule of law alone exercise attraction. Alone this, and the fact that civil society in Armenia is basically against a membership what is often called „Soviet Union 2.0“, the Eurasian Customs Union, shows clearly that the European Union is not „out“ as a model in third countries. It is perhaps more appreciated there than at present within the EU.
This is underligned by the developments of the last days in Ukraine. An average political person from the EU would probably not have foreseen the explosion of civil society, opposition, students – and citizens from everywhere! – against the Yanukovich regime. Ten thousands of people demonstrated and continue to demonstrate against the decision of the national authorities not to follow any more the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. This had been negotiated by the same Ukrainian government which says now no to it!, ahhh, it would be so ridiculous if it weren’t that sad. The real reasons? Well, a mix of interests of Putin’s Moscow who however says he is only against Ukraine’s NATO membership (which is not in discussion at all), but at the same time does everything to prevent Ukraine to come closer to the EU. The EU is not a military alliance, if at all it operates soft power only. This shows that the ex-KGB man Vladimir Putin is still and fully on the fundament of the former Cold War of which we all had thought that it is over. This is not only archconservative, it is reactionary. The second reason for Ukraine’s position (well, the one of the regime and a majority in the parliament) lies in the – evidently limited – thinking dimension of Yanukovich, in his psychology. He really hates his predecessor, Ms. Timoshenko, who is now in prison. One must imagine what this means: A former federal chancellor of Germany who has negotiated with the US in an energy deal and who possibly did not make an optimal deal, is thrown in prison once his term is finished. These issues are to be regulated with the voting Bulletin and with nothing else (and: with a honest voting, Mr. Yanukovich!).
So the Ukrainians demonstrate now, what they did once before with success – the „Orange Revolution“. It is evident, that Mr. Putin does not fear anything more than just this, for he has to see a possible enlargement of such a movement to Russia. It is not easy for EU Europeans to show solidarity, although many of us would love to bring wine and cake to the people in the streets. It is a lucky case that with Klitchko a prominent sportsman is at the top of the demonstrators – hopefully he may be the next president of Ukraine.
Above all, the demonstrations, with European flags, with Ukrainian flags, with decided and intelligent people who want their country closer to the model of the European Union and away from the old-fashioned, authoritarian model of Russia and old Ukraine, are a clear tail wind for the European Union. Many of EU Europeans think now what to do before the European Parliament elections on 25.5.2014, how to mobilize people, how to bring them to the polls. To take part in European Parliament elections – this is the dream of many Ukrainians, and we here have to convince People to go to the polls – aren’t we in a ga-ga world? Few of the EU citizens are aware of this, but all of them should keep this in mind.
Sorry that I cannot bring cake & wine to the demonstrators, but this is nothing more than a clear expression of sympathy and solidarity. Like the warm pullovers which are now knitted by babushkas for otherwise freezing devushkas.