Time is ripe for diplomacy in Ukraine -- Helsinki Times
Monday 4/14/14 time 2:00 PM
Let us repeat some of the key past events in Ukraine. EU Member States´ foreign ministers mediated. President Yanukovych gave in for early elections, most likely after having understood that Russia will not support violent suppression of the demonstrations. Yanukovych´s frailty only excited the opposition. And when he decided to leave Kiev his police and his government came down like a house of cards.
For a while one was worried that Yanukovych could succeed in gathering up troops loyal to him in Eastern and Southern parts of Ukraine. Yet, Yanukovych´s credibility was diminished once his lavish lifestyle was revealed. Now the palace - and its ostrich farm - of the former president is a Sunday walk destination to ordinary Ukrainians.
Everyone has been baffled by the speed of the collapse. A massive bankruptcy estate has fallen on the shoulders of the EU. Russia has taken an eye on the Russian speaking population in Crimea. Most baffled are the Ukrainians themselves. What next?
The European Parliament has also debated about the Ukrainian turmoil. Genuine worry and wariness is voiced by many parliamentarians. Others are full of triumph - as if "the West" had once again beaten "the East" in a game of chess.
This is not what the situation is all about. Ukraine is, in the words of the French Le Monde, a country which is understood neither by the West nor Russia. The spontaneous revolution came about peacefully by singing hymns, carrying icons and supported by three competing Orthodox Churches. Sacredness and evilness was present on the streets at the same time.
Even though the Ukrainian youth were standing and falling in the name of the EU flag, we know very little what the flag really symbolized to them. Hopefully all the good things Europe has to offer: the rule of law, legality, common rules and fight against corruption.
Hopefully it did not symbolize unrealistic expectations about fast-track EU membership - in such a case they will be disappointed. The EU cannot be entered in a whim. There would still need to be a revolution in legislation, governance and the justice system. Ukrainians must do it themselves while Europe can help and offer technical assistance from the side.
It has become apparent that Russia seeks for a new role.
Crimea soon became the second point of turmoil. Part of the Russian speaking population turned to Russia asking for help and protection while others, namely the Crimean Tatars are terrified.
What is needed is diplomacy. Sochi Olympic Games was a means to showing the entire world that Russia is an ordinary country not to be afraid of. The excessive PR-profits from the Olympic Games are now lost.
The start of the revolution during the Olympic Games is seen in Russia as a spoilsport if not an outright provocation. Russia should not be humiliated or forced to severe nationalistic reactions. That mess we would be cleaning up for decades.
We, the European Union, are a party, not an independent mediator. The time is now ripe to resort to cooperation with other international actors, namely the UN and OSCE - sooner rather than later.