Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, Brussels, June 22, 2017
The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, in his interview with leading world media, has clearly outlined his vision for the European Union. It is a union of values and not a supermarket, he said. For the first time in many years, these words were clearly voiced by the leader of one of the leading countries on the continent.
It is no secret that many Ukrainians concur with this position towards the European Union — an attitude that is often even more intuitive than conscious. The people who came out on Maidan demonstrated not simply for the association with the European Union. They demonstrated for the values of the European Union. For those values that stand for justice and solidarity.
This is why those European politicians who adhere to such values find it is so strange to observe the current behavior exhibited by some of the elites and societies in the countries of Central Europe — our neighbors. Emmanuel Macron cites the prominent Polish politician and dissident Bronislaw Geremek, who told his young French colleague: “You cannot even imagine how much you owe us.” Geremek, naturally, spoke of principles, not money. He spoke of the dividing lines that arose in Europe after the Second World War, when the part of the continent that was liberated from Hitler was turned over to the actual rule of a regime no less disgusting than Hitler’s. This is why Macron has been so surprised by the actual rejection of principles coupled with the desire to receive money. This is probably why people in Warsaw or Budapest they are so offended by the French leader.
Europe should not simply be used
For Ukraine these words by the French president represent a program for the future. If we want a successful European integration, we must first think of principles, about European solidarity. Europeans do not even realize how much they owe us. But in order for such an idea to emerge, we must become a part of the Europe of values and not the loan-consuming Europe. We must remember what Europe went through on the difficult path to unity. But we must also reiterate that Ukraine was part of the “bloodlands,” to use the accurate designation by historian Timothy Snyder, and that it sacrificed no less.
After the current disillusionment by European leaders over what Macron calls the “betrayal” by neighbors on the continent, we must not give reason to suspect us of commonplace consumption. Ukrainians have suffered too much to want simply to take advantage of Europe. No, we must become the real Europe — not in the geographical sense, but in the sense of values. That will be the secret of Ukraine’s civilizational success.