By Vasyl Rasevych
27-01-14 22:51 Zaxid.net
Translated by Anna Ray
Edited by Isis Wisdom
It is strange but notwithstanding all indifference and haughtiness of the Western countries in relation to Ukrainians and their fate, we still believe that Western democracies will help us. How can these pillars of the Western civilization not notice who fights for freedom and democracy and who – for authoritarianism and repressions?
However, considering the actual policy of the European Union, I have real pity for those naive romantics who stubbornly hold to their illusory vision of the Western world.
Once more about spiritual and material values
The European Union persistently works on its image. But for those lucky men on that side of the European fence, it is not enough to be content with welfare and a satisfied life; they decided to announce themselves supreme rulers of spiritual values. It is believed in the world that the EU is, first of all, an economic union. However, it is not so, the EU is a “union of values.” Nobody has any doubts for a second that the EU is based on clear humanistic values: protection of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, lawful state, protection of human rights (of persons and minorities). But all of that proved to be observed only for use internally within the borders. All these principles are valid only within the European Union. What of the EU’s role in advancing these values throughout the surrounding world? Is the sated European Union ready to risk, even minimally, a part of its welfare for the sake of strengthening humanitarian values across the continent?
More can be learned of the external policy of this “Union of Values.” The most eloquent commitments to humanistic values, or on the contrary the greatest loyalty to Mammon, are found in the EU’s actions during its moments of greatest crisis in history. The old Europe watched the collapse of the USSR and the Parade of Sovereignties with fear and distrust. But, this fear and distrust were motivated not so much by ungovernability of the process, than by anxiety about its own safety and welfare. It is not a secret that many politicians and diplomats are used to living and working in the conditions of a bipolar system, where everything was clear and understandable. This belief still exists in the heads of many European dignitaries who are empowered to make decisions. The efforts of some European politicians to divide with Putin the spheres of influence in Eastern Europe are an atavism of the old model of international relations.
For instance, German statesmen still believe for some reason that they have every right to decide on the fate of sovereign states together with Putin and without participation of any ‘heroes of the occasion.’ Somehow, the representatives of the “Union of Values” do not worry about the authoritarian character of Russian rule. They do not worry, either, about the brutality with which Putin has suppressed the democratic mass media in his country, having turned them into a hand of government and made them powerful propaganda mouthpieces. The civilized West managed only to wave a finger and repeatedly reproach the Russian President a few times for mass murders in Chechnia, for aggression against sovereign Georgia, etc. And even that is not the main thing, the main thing is that the EU not only did not solidly stand up for the protection of democratic values, but further continued negotiations on equal footing with someone who openly states his neo-imperialist plans.
It seems that for many Western politicians it is much more it is much more profitable to deal with a dictator than a number of democratic governors. One doesn’t wish it to but, it would appear, history repeats itself. Once at the international conference in Berlin, I was listening to the speech of the counsellor of the German government about the situation in Yugoslavia. So at least that one German expert honestly acknowledged that Germany would not interfere with the conflict, and was waiting for someone to win, and then to recognize the latter’s legitimate right to rule over the occupied territory. Therefore, the protection of peaceful inhabitants against military offence, taking the heat off national minorities, guarantees of inviolability of private property and guaranteeing the right to freedom and life, were not mentioned. If this approach remains relevant, the “Western democracies” must refuse the false pseudo-democratic rhetoric and state openly and directly that they advocate strict adherence to basic human values exclusively within the borders of the EU. That, at least, would be more honest.
It is known that the private companies of democratic world have the most successful business if they have access to the markets of authoritarian regimes. There are no protests from the French or German governments against economic cooperation with non-democratic China. Delicate European citizens dug their feet in a bit against goods from the South-East Asia, because they use child slave labour, but their indignation quickly ended. European companies did not listen to the appeals to boycott the authoritarian regime in Belarus and pushed their way through to bargains with Lukashenko. And about economic cooperation with authoritarian Russia, it is better to keep silent. Worse, the economic and financial lobbies of EU, enriched in Russia, put political pressure on their governments for them to also enter into political cooperation with Vladimir Putin.
If the EU politicians think that they can appease Putin’s appetite, returning “incomprehensible” Ukraine to his mercy, they are sadly mistaken. Appetite, as a rule, usually comes with eating. We are very mindful of the tactics of “appeasement” that Western politicians used to satisfy the appetites of Hitler. We know how that all ended.
Courtesy of the play
The division of the spheres of influence in Eastern Europe between the EU, where Germany plays first fiddle, and Putin’s Russia may bring fatal consequences. The fact that Europe, so far, considers Ukraine worthy of attention only for its diplomats says a lot. Only three countries advocated drawing up some definite deed to settle the crisis in Ukraine: Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. In the meantime, heavyweights such as France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain strongly object to that. They might traditionally see no necessity of working with Ukraine directly, for them it is enough to persuade Putin. Their lame excuses for obligatory discussion of the ‘Ukrainian question’ at the Russia-EU summit, to which Putin strongly objects, show the same detestable policy of appeasement again.
But how to convey to those hardened German diplomats that a Medieval diplomatic game with Putin kills the idea and the values that they supposedly guide? How to explain to them that diplomatic negotiations can be carried out not only with the descendants of imperial nations, but it is about high time to also meet with young nations on the European continent? How to explain that in order to avoid a deepened crisis in Ukraine they have to speak with the Ukrainian people themselves?
Last Thursday the Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel stated that she saw no grounds for imposing sanctions on the Ukrainian government. If Madam Chancellor had said frankly that she did not believe that all the member countries of the European Union would vote for the introduction of sanctions, which is an obligatory condition for joint actions, we might have believed her. But we know how mixed the unified Europe is, how specific the actions and interests of different national governments can be. Nevertheless, Frau Merkel lacked the “eyeglasses” to see the corrupted Ukrainian courts, the undemocratic laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada in an anti‑constitutional way under pressure of Yanukovych’s regime, outlaws in police uniform together with mafia bosses kidnapping people from hospitals, torturing and murdering them. To see criminals whom the government party turns loose on the capital’s residents beating random street walkers to a half-dead state. Frau Chancellor does not even want to look at the Ukrainian citizen stripped naked of his clothes by “Berkut” in the freezing cold, does not want to see the humiliation and derogation of human dignity perpetrated by people in police uniform. Or maybe she, as a German, categorically does not want to see these things because they might cause her to have bad historical allusions?
It seems that Ms. Merkel is increasingly asking her advisers to give her a magnifying glass with larger and larger dioptres, so as not to see hundreds of thousands of protesters at Euromaidan in Kyiv, who fight for the democratic values that are allegedly espoused in the EU, but instead to better see the different kinds of extremists and neo-Nazis. Because, as we know, the modern democratic Germany is so ‘purist’ that it does not negotiate with neither undemocratic China nor Putin’s authoritarian regime. There is an impression that German foreign policy is so sterile that no one in the world can equal the purity of thoughts of the German diplomats. Perhaps, they should never travel outside of Berlin but rather stay and enjoy its pristine purity? Perhaps, instead of constant talks about the humanistic values of the European Union they might finally try living in accordance with them and fighting for their establishment? And it is not only the task and duty of people of limited diplomatic protocol, but in general the mission for true citizens.
It is known that there is no justice, nor adherence to principles during elections. Obviously, there are people with different convictions and different goals at Euromaidan in Kyiv. Nobody objects that at Maidan in Kyiv and in other Ukrainian cities there are both advocates of democracy, football ‘ultras’ and members of different marginal nationalist and left groups. Nevertheless, they are not the mainstream of these protests. Besides, football fans have shown themselves to be remarkably ‘strange.’ Instead of smashing everything with whatever comes to hand, they have undertaken to protect peaceful protesters against police attacks and the semi-criminal youth mobilized by the government.
I would like to mention that the protests at Maidan have been peaceful for almost two months. The main stage hosted singers, politicians, public leaders, priests. An unprecedented attack of Yanukovych’s regime on fundamental democratic values, rights and liberties radicalized the situation. On January 16, in defiance of common sense and the regulations of the Verkhovna Rada [the Parliament of Ukraine], the Parliament passed anti-democratic laws. The government then threw its special forces units at peaceful protesters. That caused distrust of the opposition leaders who were suspected of conspiracy with the regime. The suspicion was based on the fact that the opposition simply protracted the situation, trying not to damage relations with the EU and waiting for it to make certain adequate offers. Young radicals saw a treacherous plan in these actions; they thought that Europe and Putin wait for Maidan to get exhausted, for people to disperse due to the bitter frost, for everything to end. As a result, the most radical characters who built the barricades went to the front line, armed themselves with ‘Molotov cocktails’ and began to act. They repelled several bloody attacks, lost a few human lives and continue to fight, despite the extreme cold and fatigue. Whereas the old Europe stubbornly refuses to see them as fighters against the authoritarian regime, nor to impose sanctions on this regime, nor to limit the right of entry to the EU for the central persons guilty in the crisis.
It is clear that European inhabitants, moreover, a responsible conservative politician and a high-ranking state official cannot but fear ‘Molotov cocktails’ and burning barricades on the central streets of a European capital. In their mind’s eye, perhaps they see this picture transposed onto their countries’ steady and trouble-free life. They are likely to draw parallels with cars on fire in Marseilles or protests in Athens, and, surely, they do not want burning Ukraine. If so, what about the humanistic values on which they allegedly were united? And maybe, everything is much simpler? Maybe all this fake diplomatic theatre is designed to stimulate unrest until Putin’s Russia realizes its apparent plan? For, what would one not do for the sake of saving one’s own welfare? With whom will you become relatives, with whom will you become friends…
“Let others fight, but you, happy Austria, shall marry”
Historians attribute this phrase to the Hungarian king Korvin. With these words he characterized the successful policy of the Habsburg dynasty, the essence of which consisted in the ‘accretion’ of the empire’s territory, not by military conquest, but through the conclusion of successful inter-dynastic marriages. Since then, much water has flowed over the Danube, and Austrians themselves increasingly called the old Habsburg Empire a prototype of the European Union. Over time, they succeeded in ‘coping with’ its past. Despite the Austrian origin of Adolf Hitler, and thousands of festive demonstrations at Heldenplatz on the occasion of Anschluss, Austrians easily became the first ‘victims’ of Nazism.
The ten-tear-long Soviet presence in Austria did not allow for conducting a full-scale denazification of the country; so, in this cozy Alpine republic, the phenomenon of the Freedom Party became possible. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Austria has become a quiet harbour for all kinds of rich thieves, Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, and families of Central Asian dictators. The guarantee of bank secrecy, like a magnet, has attracted everyone who has stolen money and has sought for a place to hide it safely. Refined Austrian Europeans were indifferent to the criminal origin of the money. The main thing is that they work on the economy of their country. No one paid special attention to the fact that this influx of wealthy criminals might essentially influence Austrian society itself. And now, the new rich Austrian citizens are buying up real estate in Austria on a massive scale. They buy ancient patrimonial estates and castles, arrange exuberant parties and balls, realizing their visions of a social high life. All this long ago took on the form of caricature, and the culture of Mozart and Strauss gradually acquires the features of the post-Soviet “Blatnjak” [thieves’ lifestyle]. What will one not do for the sake of economic prosperity and one’s own welfare? Even one’s hands stop feeling some sticky substance on bills which are so generously flowing into the Austrian economy…
Austrian diplomats often like to hide behind the thesis of the powerlessness of ‘a small country’ to influence major international processes. However, nobody expects much from ‘a small country’. It would be enough just to investigate the origins of the money from the Ukrainian high-ranking influencers and oligarchs who have their own business accounts and estates in Austria. Only one scant report about the lies of the Klyuev brothers, when they filled financial papers, will be enough to impose sanctions on them. In the same way, it is necessary to take interest in the activities of the companies under the care of Mr. Rheinhard Proksch, who conceals the incomes of Azarov’s and Yanukovych’s families. Besides, it would be good to inquire about the activities of the tycoon Firtash and how he favours freedom of speech in Ukraine through his controlled media.
P.S. If Germany stopped thinking by imperial categories and saw an independent Ukraine regardless of Putin’s Russia, if it refused to divide the world into spheres of influence with Putin and became a real guarantor of the establishment and observance of human values in the post-Soviet space, then it would be an invaluable help to Ukraine. If Austria, on which the Western Ukrainians gaze with admiration, donated at least a part of its well-being, and arrested the bank accounts of Ukrainian oligarchs and initiated bans on their entry to the Schengen zone, it would also be an invaluable help to Ukraine. Europeans, we ask you only a little thing: not only to declare, but also to live according to universal human principles.