Today is the 20th anniversary of my homeland – Ukraine. Actually I don’t think that it’s like 20th birth of Ukraine, because I’d rather say that on 24 of August 1991 Ukraine restored its independence. First declaration of independence of Ukraine took place back on 7 of November 1917. At the time it was Ukrainian People’s Republic which existed until 1921 when it was occupied by Russians and in 1922 Ukraine became part of the USSR against Ukraine’s will.
Ukraine has achievements and failures, let’s say, like all other countries in this world. Unfortunately taking into account all potential that Ukraine has, my country is at the end of list of successful European states. Perhaps, it is caused by colonial mentality of some population, maybe, it is caused by lack of political will to undertake necessary and wise reforms, or it was even caused by poor quality of Ukrainian elite. Now we can only suppose what is the reason… Maybe all factors together?
Concerning foreign policy of Ukraine, I have to admit that during Viktor Yanukovych’s administration we all felt roll-back of democratic standards, living standards and foreign policy orientation shifted towards Russia. But, I have to be honest, Yanukovych’s administration understood that choosing Russia as a geopolitical vector is not a good idea at all. I have an example: Yanukovych doesn’t accept to join Russian Customs union, he doesn’t accept to merge Ukrainian state-owned gas/oil company “Naftogaz” with Russian “Gazprom” either. He wants to sign an Association Agreement and Free Trade Agreement with the EU by the end of 2011, in such a way securing Ukraine’s future within united Europe. I bet, he regrets that he ceased to Russian demands and allowed signature and ratification of “Kharkiv Pact” in such a way prolonging Russian Black Sea fleet stay in Ukrainian city Sevastopol till 2042 violating Article 17 of the Ukrainian Constitution which states:
“The location of foreign military bases shall not be permitted on the territory of Ukraine.”
Frankly, I do believe that Viktor Yanukovych becomes more patriot comparing to 2004 and first year as a President in 2010. I don’t approve his internal policy, because Ukrainians live worse than before, but I think I can support his foreign policy (except his decision to do not join NATO). I’d like to quote some President’s words from his speech:
“Ukraine not only wishes to be a European country. This geographical fact does not require extra proof. We wish to join the great European project – building a united Europe based on the values of freedom, democracy and law. We wish to join it in a difficult time, seeking not subsidies or indulgences, but opportunities and rights. Join it, despite the hard pressure and conscious hindering, as equal partners. Join it for our common future.”
“We believe that the Association Agreement and establishing a deep and comprehensive free trade area is what Ukraine and the European Union need now. We hope our partners understand that too.”
“Ukraine needs not only economic cooperation, but, first of all, the radical expansion of human contacts with the European Union. Not the government, but the society, every citizen needs that. Ukrainian government will do everything to implement the National Plan to introduce a visa-free travel. We hope the EU side will understand our capabilities and limitations, and help the citizens of Ukraine to exercise their right to freedom of movement.”
From these words we can see, that Viktor Yanukovych is sending a strong message to his European colleagues that Ukraine sees itself in the European Union in future and this vector is defined. By the way, we all understand from which country Ukraine feels “pressure” (you’re right, it’s Russia).
Concluding my thoughts, I want to say that we have to deal with a lot problems, but we are building our state 20 years only and it’s not enough to achieve significant results without help of the European Union and the United States of America. You say, but why such countries as: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic achieved better results than Ukraine? Don’t forget that those countries were supported by the EU and the US much better, than Ukraine was.
Glory to Ukraine and happy 20th birthday!