December 4, 2014
European leaders are trying to avoid expressing their real assessment of the situation in Ukraine in public. Such a reticence is caused by many factors, and the absence of unanimity inside the boat of European politics is the most important of them.
George Soros, a multibillionaire and a philanthropist, has warned EU Member States against the danger that originates from Russia. Soros has written an article under the very expressive title “Wake up, Europe”. He calls for increasing economic and military support to Ukraine, which is suffering because of Russian aggression at its eastern borders. Soros underlines that “Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge and know how best to deal with it”.
Russia launched a military invasion into Ukraine 9 months ago, however, Europe has appeared unable to give birth to a common European approach towards Ukrainian crisis and Russian aggression.
Every country has its customs… and its policy line towards situation in Ukraine. Poland was the first EU country which clearly defined its positions. Poles and Ukrainians have a long and rather complicated story of relationships. The common history of two nations has not always been positive. They do remember massacre of Poles in Ukrainian Volhynia region and forced deportation of Ukrainians from Poland. But Poles also remember the doctrine of their famous compatriot Jerzy Giedroyc. He called for Poland to reject any imperial ambitions and territorial claims and to support independence of Ukraine and Belarus. It was Warsaw which lobbied for and facilitated rapprochement between Ukraine and EU. It were Polish politicians who refused to feed Ukrainians promises and rendered effective diplomatic assistance. Warsaw has become Ukraine’s advocate in the EU since the very first days of the Maydan Square events in Kiev. It even dared dispute against Germany.
Meanwhile Germany (and its Chancellor Merkel) has no firm political stance: it doesn’t want to quarrel with Putin and doesn’t want to be a black sheep among EU Member States.
Relations between France and the Kremlin have always been close and friendly, but Paris was forced to suspend its “Mistral” deal with Russia. France now has to make some efforts to improve its international image spoiled by military collaboration with the aggressor.
Unlike Poland, Hungary, another country neighboring upon Ukraine, has made an emphasis on Magna Hungaria and on Austro-Hungarian Empire heritage. Having proclaimed itself a successor of the Empires, Budapest began to speak about special status of ethnic Magyars and Rousins, who are living in the Trans-Carpathian Ukraine. Many of this people have obtained Hungarian citizenship and relevant documents. Nevertheless, EU and Visegrad Group members have condemned such a practice and Hungarian politicians’ radical statements concerning Ukraine.
Slovak Republic expresses its support to democratic transformations in Ukraine in a rather ambivalent manner: Slovakia is against sanctions against Russia and, at the same time, it provides reverse gas deliveries to Ukraine. It tries to keep balance and be unnoticeable in the field of EU-Russia standoff.
Czech leaders prefer to pursue pro-active policy. They have nearly suspended foreign policy measures coordination with the other Visegrad Group members and they are also hardly able to coordinate actions between themselves. There are two contradicting approaches towards Ukraine in Czech foreign policy. Czech minister of foreign affairs Zaoralek promises all-out support to Ukraine in his public statements, but he is against NATO troops deployment in Ukraine and arms sales to Ukraine. President Zeman considers that Ukrainians are involved in the civil war and demands that ethnic Czechs were given opportunity to return from Ukraine to their historical homeland. Such courses do not promote better understanding among EU Member States and common position towards Ukraine elaboration.
Europe doesn’t want (maybe, doesn’t dare?) to realize that aggression against Ukraine is an indirect attack on EU. European Union must mobilize all available means and resources to stop the war in the territory of the continent. Sanctions against Russia are necessary despite their negative implications for European countries.
And, as Soros affirms, “It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself. There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin’s Russia can be so successful even in the short term. The bureaucracy of the EU …should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union”. The European Union is assisting itself by saving Ukraine.tyszecki