Can Europe Make It?

The west's moment of truth in Ukraine has finally come - will the declarations of love give way to action?

Ioanna Karamitrousi
5 March 2014

Over the past few days, we have all been transfixed, watching the state of emergency unfolding in Ukraine. Tanks, guns and angry citizens, mass protests and violence. But are we ready to accept the pain? What can the European Union do in order to prevent an incident like this? We are spectators in a thriller that is rapidly progressing. We said, 'We don’t want a war in Europe!', and yet this war is approaching.

As Adam Michnik - one of the architects of the democratic transition in Poland and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza - said “the events of recent days are the result of three factors: the mobilization of protestors in Maidan, the diplomatic action taken by EU foreign ministers, and the stupidity of the deposed President Yanukovych. The latter behaved like a gangster. He had no strategy for two months and his reaction was hysterical”.

From the other side, Viktor Yanukovych has said he is still the nation’s rightful leader and urged Russia to refrain from military intervention in the southern Crimea region, where unrest has spread. Speaking for the first time since leaving Ukraine, Yanukovych told reporters in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don that the country should abide by a peace accord signed a week ago with EU diplomats under which he’d remain leader throughout December. He labelled the parliament in Kiev illegitimate and vowed to return when it was safe.

Is there a risk of splitting the country? Common sense says “NO”, but in this region of the world nothing is governed by common sense! I do not think that this is a realistic scenario. But if the west, in the broad sense, doesn’t mobilize to provide Ukraine with significant financial help, then Ukrainians will wonder if it is really worth looking westwards.

I really hope Europe will make everything possible. Until now, I think that European diplomacy was wise and effective. But now the moment of truth has come. Will the declarations of love give way to action? The European Union and the International Monetary Fund should help Ukraine. The European Union should fund the necessary reforms for at least the next two years. The success of Ukraine will be the strongest argument to open the door to a democratic Russia. We all wish that Ukraine will return to constitutional normalcy and stability and continue her promising path towards European integration.

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