Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Rethinking the EU -- for Ukraine as well

By Aussiegirl

The Kyiv Post has a good editorial on what the recent negative vote on the EU in France and Holland may mean to Ukraine's desire to become a member.

For a number of reasons I have always questioned whether in the long run EU membership would actually be in Ukraine's best interests. In my estimation, Yushchenko's frequent statements that Ukraine is a European nation and belongs to Europe probably had much to do with his desire to make it clear that Ukraine under a Yushchenko presidency would be looking to the west for its values and system of governance more than to the east. It seemed to me that he was making a Hobson's choice, perhaps knowing that EU membership was not in the cards in the near future, but hoping to make it clear that he was casting his lot with, and therefore hoping to gain the protection of, NATO in order to stave off Moscow's encroaching bear hug. He was making it crystal clear that he saw Ukraine's future with the west -- as a cooperating and fully functioning free market, democratic state.

I predicted that by the time Ukraine was even considered for membership the EU would either possibly not exist, or would look completely different.

In the future, I see it as entirely plausible, possible, and indeed desirable and natural that a loose economic and political alliance will be formed by the "New Europe" -- the former Soviet Bloc countries -- Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic and the others. Already there is the skeleton of such a cooperative venture in the GUUAM treaty.

These countries have far more in common culturally and historically with each other than they presently do with "Old Europe". Their sense of newfound democracy, liberty and free enterprise is out of synch with Old Europe's stagnating Eurosocialism, with its emphasis on bureaucracy, heavy taxation, and the general stifling of business under a cradle-to-grave welfare state that discourages individual initiative and enterprise, and its reflexive anti-Americanism.

Politically these countries have also been staunch allies of the United States, unlike Old Europe, supporting the war on terror and recognizing the dangers to freedom that exist in the world -- primarily because they themselves have a very painful and recent memory of being deprived of that very democracy and freedom and they seem to more closely reflect American values than they do those of Chirac, Schroeder and the other Eurodinosaurs.

We may see a Europe in the future composed of Old Europe, New Europe -- and Russia -- with whatever allies it can glean for itself.

Russia is of course free to join any of these free alliances, but, at least under Putin's present leadership, sadly persists in its old paranoid attitudes that any alliances between free democracies are alliances which threaten Russia. And this will continue as long as Russia insists on playing the role of blustering bully, seeing danger and threats where none exist.

The recent vote against the EU, however, is a bracing sign that it is perhaps not the people of Old Europe who have lost their way, but the bureaucrats -- those enlightened ones who try to impose their lofty and utopian ideas on an unwilling and unsuspecting population.

Perhaps we can call it the Brie Revolution -- the Revolution of the Cheeses (see the Washington Post article posted just below) -- the people have once again spoken -- and in their wisdom have made clear that perhaps a more sensible approach can be drawn up which will address the desires that most common sense people have for an EU -- easier travel, eased trade and economic restrictions, and common political and diplomatic ties.

France's no - and Ukraine

Yushchenko keeps cultivating Europe, but what sort of EU does he think Ukraine will someday join?

President Viktor Yushchenko's attitude toward Europe was remarkable during last year's presidential campaign and remains so now that he is in office. He has repeated to everyone who will listen a familiar litany: Ukraine is a European country; it belongs in the European Union; it deserves attention from Brussels; its destiny is inevitably with Europe; and so on.
We never quite figured out what Yushchenko was up to with all this. Maybe he was being sly, demanding of Europe the moon and then taking what he could get. But then, maybe he was sincere, and thus a bit naive. It seemed to us that Europe has its own problems, and Ukraine should be no less careful in pledging itself to Europe than to anyone else. Besides, it was impossible to tell what the EU would even be by the time Ukraine potentially got around to joining it in a decade, at least, from now. Maybe it wouldn't even be worth it. Things change.

Do they ever, if this weekend's earthquake of a vote in France is any indication. That the French � the French, at the very heart of the EU project! � should massively reject the EU constitution means that much is up for grabs in the transnational body's future. Who can say what will happen to the EU?

. . . The fact is that Ukraine, famously situated on the borders of empires, is well-situated to form intelligent, self-interested relationships with various other countries. It ought to use the independence it so recently achieved to do so.


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