2016 for Ukraine and the world

shutterstock

 

Politics

Article by: Paths to Freedom on Radio Liberty

On New Year’s eve, the host of the Paths to Freedom show on Radio Svoboda Vitaliy Portnikov spoke with political experts Taras Berezovets and Pavel Kazarin to analyze the events in Ukraine of the past year and share their forecasts for next year.

Disappointments for Ukraine and the world

The host summed up 2016 as a year of disappointment for Ukraine given its many unresolved problems, such as the slowdown of economic reforms, the rise of domestic populism, deferment in the visa-free regime with the EU, and the strained relationship between the society and the State—all of which are carrying over to 2017.

From left to right: Vitaliy Portnikov, Taras Berezovets, Pavlo Kazarin

From left to right: Vitaliy Portnikov, Taras Berezovets, Pavlo Kazarin

The fact that Ukraine still doesn’t have the visa-free regime is irrelevant. What matters is that we’re changing even in the constant state of war waged on all possible fronts

However, disappointment is a feeling common for many countries, where citizens believe that their country is moving in the wrong direction,  according to Berezovets In the case of Ukraine, similar disappointments existed prior to 2016. According to social polls, Ukraine has a higher level of confidence in its volunteers, the National Guard, the church, and the army than its government.

Kazarin thinks that this is a natural process of social maturity. He explained this phenomenon with the fact that Ukrainians are historically “legal nihilists.”

“For a long time, Ukraine existed under empires, where law and state institutions were perceived as something that served the metropolis but not colonies. The Ukrainians know well how to unite horizontally, create informal communication channels, and protest. They are accustomed to thinking that the government is not someone, but I am the government. The process experienced in the last three years could be defined as the renewal of the whole range of social contracts between the government and the church, citizens, and institutions.”

Ukrainians know well how to unite horizontally, create informal communication channels, and protest. They are accustomed to thinking that the government is not someone, but I am the government.

Berezovets stressed that Ukraine is drastically progressing. Over the last three years of its 25 years of independence, Ukraine is developing outside the Russian context. To conclude a visa-free deal with the EU, Ukraine amended its legislation by adopting about 144 separate laws on domestic violence, gender equality, and other important issues.

“The fact that Ukraine still doesn’t have the visa-free regime is irrelevant. What matters is that we’re changing even in the constant state of war waged on all possible fronts,” he said.

At the same time, it’s alarming that the EU was unable to fulfill its obligations on the visa-free regime.

Western weariness with the conflict with Russia, Ukrainian weariness of the West

The West deceived Ukraine and Georgia’s expectations by failing to hold its end of the bargain with the visa-free regime

Portnikov pointed out the real trend now is not the Western weariness of Ukraine, highlighted by the Russian media, but Western weariness with the conflict with Russia. The US and French popular politicians seek some collaboration, which practically factors out Ukraine. Berezovets attributes this to Russia’s status as a global player greatly influencing the stability in the Middle East. Without Russia, neither the EU nor the US can solve the Syrian conflict. There is a danger that if Ukraine doesn’t quickly find ways to influence the Trump administration, it’s possible that it could be used as a bargaining chip in the Syrian peace talks.

Another matter is that Ukrainians themselves are getting weary of the West. Berezovets said that in the case of the visa-free regime, the West deceived Ukraine and Georgia’s expectations by failing to hold its end of the bargain. This is a warning sign because European institutions as a global structure are losing trust. Most importantly, the EU is losing values, solidarity, and mutual responsibility for decision making.

The international whirlpool of right-wing populism

Ukraine is doomed to go through all stages of social development which took other countries five to seven years.

This year Ukraine was caught in the whirlpool of an international right-wing populism, while experiencing its own domestic populism, especially among right-wing parties like Svoboda and Azov. Berezovets pointed out that unlike the rise of the left-wing populism in the 70s when politicians gave unrealistic promises, such as to increase wages, the triumph of right-wing populists is much more dangerous since these politicians promise restrictive measures related to migration and freedom of labor movement that are easy to realize.

Experts agree that Ukraine should focus on its national interests and stop relying on the foreign assistance.

Kazarin stressed that Ukraine is doomed to go through all stages of social development, each year embarking on the road to development, which took other countries five to seven years.

In terms of 2017 outlook, Berezovets urged Ukraine to be ready to deal with problems likely to be created and spilled over into Ukraine by Russia’s degradation and possible collapse. And, Kazarin noted that in 2017, Ukraine is likely to have intensified isolationist moods. On the one hand, the optimal scenario is possible if Ukraine discovered an ability to independently determine its priorities and align them without relying on anyone. On the other hand, a whole range of pessimistic and populist scenarios are also likely to unfold in 2017.

Translated by: Translated and summarized by Vera Zimmerman
Source: svoboda.org

Tags: , ,

  • http://www.taboogenocide.com kris dietrich

    The West has deceived Russia Ukraine and the masses of the world from the beginning with the collapse of the Tsar is Empire and it’s First World War. Read Taboo Genocide Holodomor1933. You might then begin to understand.

    • Turtler

      Says the moron who claims that the Cheka was full of Jews (it wasn’t, certainly not in any meaningful way), that the Western Allies were planning for war to destroy Nazi Germany (so much so that they apparently were utterly unprepared for the German onslaught in 1940 and the Japanese in late 1941), and so on?