Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ukraine Now

Maidan has published an extensive study of the present situation in Ukraine by Alex Bogomolov of the Maidan Alliance, originally prepared for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), for presentation at a CEPS-IISS-DCAF seminar in Brussels held on November 6, 2006. Among the topics covered are the political scene in Ukraine, the NATO debate, business and politics, regional challenges, and the security sector.

From the paper’s conclusion:

…the major internal and external threats that the nation is faced with now include:
1. Backsliding into an authoritarian mode – i.e. adopting a model that takes its inspiration in Putin’s Russia or, much worse becoming its satellite. Formation of a PRU-led oligarchic monopoly could be entry to this mode. So far PRU shows many sings of heading there. To avoid that, Ukraine needs to preserve at least the current level or political and economic competition.

2. Political isolation and hence arrested democratic development. If the country continues to follow an ambiguous and indecisive political course toward two major actors – Russia and the West, sugar-coating it with outdated political concepts such as neutrality or multi-vector policies, or openly joins any of the Russia-led integrationist initiatives such as the Unified Economic Space, Ukraine risks a de-facto international isolation. Meanwhile, democracy, open society can only live in an open world. It seems that to ensure a stable solution to this problem, Ukraine needs to put the final dots on its energy dilemma, or strive as hard as possible to divide these two issues, which will be impossible without European partnership.

3. Social division, regional instability, separatism and loss of sovereignty over parts of the territory. This challenge most seriously concerns Crimea. It calls for upgrading the institutional capacity of the security sector, but even more for a serious open public discussion and a new inclusive national project, able to overcome the constraints of ethnic nationalism. Without a new Ukrainian-European national project Ukraine will hardly be capable to address either of these two aspects.

4. Becoming part of a larger unstable region, which might include the continuously destabilized Northern Caucasus, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria. This sad perspective seems possible and presents a security concern for both Ukraine and the EU in medium to longer term perspective. The processes in the neighboring Russian Federation likely to contribute to it include: the ongoing civil war in Chechnya and militant re-islamization of the Northern Caucasus, the growing xenophobia, state-sponsored persecution on ethnic and religious grounds, proliferation of radical Russian nationalism. All this comes against the backdrop of policies effectively reducing the nation’s immunity to these negative processes – such as restrictions of democratic freedoms, police harassments, censorship of media and persecutions of free journalists, restrictions on civil society organizations.

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