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A Unity Referendum – What could go wrong?

April 18, 2014

Early this month during one of those evening sessions when I have been asked to meet diplomats from sovereign missions passing through Odessa so they can empty my head of my thoughts, impression, predictions etc regarding the city and beyond in relation to the current and rapidly unfolding and unraveling situation, the subject of referendums arose – unsurprisingly.

Obviously being an active advocate of democracy I am all in favour of referendums – in theory and in practice – as long as they are carried out with clear and unambiguous language and in circumstances that are free and fair clearly identifying the issues and causal effects of any outcomes publicly.

If they are not, then predicted results can fail to materialise.

This particular diplomat was clearly also not in favour of any referendums being held within Ukraine under the current circumstances.

Needless to say this discussion was occurring at a time when The Kremlin was pushing for a referendum on federalisation (to the point whereby federal oblasts would have control over their own foreign policy) and my opinion on federalising Ukraine in the current environment was well documented. months ago – and the threats I then identified now loom large.

At the time the current Ukrainian authorities were having none of it either – but that then robust stance has now withered.

Nobody will be surprised if at today’s meeting between the US, EU, Ukraine and Russia sees an announcement of a referendum on federalisation – and the wording of that referendum The Kremlin will no doubt want a hand in drafting, either directly or by proxy through its political vassals in Ukraine.

What harm can it do after all?  We are consistently told that Ukraine is far more united now after threats and interference by The Kremlin than ever before.

As I like polls that show the questions asked, the methodology employed and a good amount of detail normally omitted by politicians and media alike – and I have written about the care needed with opinion polls before –  I will use this poll simply as it is far more transparent than many others recently quoted in the media.

ukraine-poll

Now firstly it has to be acknowledged that this opinion poll reflects only the mood of the snap-shot in time that it was conducted in – this time last month.  Events in Ukraine are currently changing by the hour and that may have an effect on the exact same poll if taken today – hopefully increasing the dark blue segment.

I will crudely add the percentages “Remain a unitary country” together with “Remain a unitary country but without Crimea” together – the result being 74% in favour of unity and dismissive of federalisation.

Those within the political science arena would consider a nation a consolidated democracy if that figure were applied to an opinion poll where no other form of governance was acceptable.

So what could go wrong?

Well we begin with a foundation of 16% who would vote against unity.  We then have another 10% “difficult to answer/no answer” whom it would appear are there to be influenced one way or another or simply wouldn’t vote.

However, we are asking the question “what could go wrong?”

Thus, worst case scenario, 26% vote against unity as a base figure.  A significant minority – particularly if consolidated in a certain region.  Problematic.

The Kremlin propaganda machine also kicks into overdrive once any Ukrainian referendum is formally announced -  naturally – pushing the benefits of a federal republic rather than a united republic, without raising the underlying reasons for its preference – The then ease of formal bite-sized chunks presented to it.

We must also acknowledge that votes are bought and sold in Ukraine.  There are many poor people.  Given the right financial incentive, votes can and will be bought to be cast a certain way.  If The Kremlin were to offer $500 per vote – as they are allegedly paying per day for people to act as they are asked in eastern Ukraine currently when seizing buildings – how much will it make available to buy voters in Ukraine when returned control over Ukraine is the prize?

Quite clearly to gain victory or control over Ukraine no matter the cost – either spent or inflicted – seems to be The Kremlin plan.  The time scale open ended, the goal set.

So to spend $50 million?  $100 million?  $200 million?  A lot of votes for that money and a lot of people are poor enough to take it.   Peanuts in the scheme of things from The Kremlin point of view for the prize on offer.

Next we have to acknowledge that people will be instructed to vote a certain way – or be sacked – by certain employers who will benefit from a federal Ukraine.  They may not necessarily have any desire to head into the Russian orbit, but they have a strong desire to keep the regional hierarchical fiefdoms in place, and they may very well be dismantled by a Kyiv leadership if a strongly united Ukraine is behind it.

Thereafter there will be undue pressure at polling stations regardless of observers being present – and should The Kremlin lose this referendum grievously, then having them declared flawed is in its interests – particularly as any referendum vote will occur when voting for a new president – both votes would then be perceived and/or declared flawed.

Then there is the vote count itself.  If you can buy, intimidate or unduly influence voters, the same can be said for the vote counters.

The initial 26% of voters against a unified Ukraine now begins to rise – perhaps considerably – and particularly in certain regions and amongst certain demographic groups.  Could it add another 10%?  Possibly so.

It is a stretch to imagine a complete turnaround to a point where a federalisation vote wins – but does it have to?

If the vote returns a 35% – 40% favouring federalism after all the shenanigans, that is a huge minority – and a minority figure that The Kremlin would use time and time again as justification to continually interfere in Ukrainian affairs either directly or by way of sponsored unrest every time Ukraine strays from the approved Kremlin path.

In short, not only does a unity verses federalism vote not make the matter disappear once it is held, unless it results in 80 – 85% in favour of a unified replublic – it could well make matters worse if it doesn’t.

After all, what percentage of the population are demanding a vote on federalism now and very possibly forcing the issue as Kremlin vassals (wittingly or otherwise)?  When/if the vote goes against them, we are to expect them to just accept it and their Kremlin backers too?  In a democratic and stable nation naturally we do – but Ukraine is barely democratic, rule of law is hit and miss at best, non-existent at worst, and the nation is certainly unstable in the current circumstances.

Remaining with the worst case scenario, following what would hopefully be a crushing defeat of the federalist idea and an irrefutable united Ukraine be the result, The Kremlin may change its tactics a little – for its goal will not have changed whatsoever.

Military invasion?  Perhaps, but perhaps not as likely as other alternatives as economic pressures, scuttling international deals whenever the opportunity arises for Ukraine etc are obvious instruments.

One such alternative, not wanting to be seen to abandon those who support(ed) The Kremlin vision of a Ukrainian future, may see the “organic domestic birth” of entities such as PIRA or ETA in certain regions carrying out acts against infrastructure – or worse – with, of course, denied external assistance.   A stable, democratic and secure Ukraine is not in The Kremlin plans unless it is one that is under the control of The Kremlin.

With people as poor as they are, it would perhaps now be a very good idea to begin to offer reasonably large, head turning sums ($1000 or so), to buy back weaponry stolen and/or appropriated during recent incidents and get them off the streets.  Of course it doesn’t solve any problems – but it is at least seen to be attempting to solve problems.

So, questions for the day – How much public opinion can be swayed toward federalism by The Kremlin machinery at the expense of a united Ukraine?  How large will a significant minority be?  How will that significant minority be used by The Kremlin thereafter?  What will Ukraine be able to do after the vote that it cannot do now to combat it?  How to avoid my scenarios above?

Now I am going to see if the federalist element in Odessa manages to bring the city centre to a standstill at 1600 hours today as they plan, or whether it will be an unmitigated disaster – back tomorrow!

 

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And what of the Transnistrian threat?

April 17, 2014

There is much said in the international media about the quasi-autonomous region of Transnistria that sits within Moldova.  Parallels of a Crimea-esque annexation by The Kremlin are not difficult to find even in the most informed journals and highbrow media.

It is though, quite different in many ways.

Firstly Transnistria has held referendums without looking down the barrel of an AK and overwhelmingly voted to become part of the Russian Federation – much to Moldavian consternation of course.

Secondly, The Kremlin has refused to allow the region both recognition or secession thus far.

However western media and commentators alike also see Transnistria as a possible/probable beachhead for Russian military/FSB/GRU agents from which to either head into Odessa (Ukraine), or head out into the rest of Moldova.  The few thousand Russian troops there indeed could do so – I suppose – though it is not a very convincing number at all for any conventional act of aggression.

At the moment, the Russian military aerodrome there is still under construction as far as I know, and thus not as optimal as it could be.

However, there has been a lot of FSB and GRU operatives arriving there over the past month according to both Moldavian and local Odessa media.  How accurate that is, who knows, though I would expect it to occur.

But there is a fundamental difference between Moldova and Ukraine which nobody has commented upon in anything I have read – be it from the learned to the hoy polloy.

The first, and almost an aside issue to what I want to comment upon, is that on 28th April all Moldavian citizens are Visa-free with the EU Schegen states as long as they hold biometric passports.  How do you turn away Visa-free refugees if you allow The Kremlin to play the same game in Moldova as it is being allowed to play in Ukraine?

That though is not the issue I want to raise – The issue I want to raise, and as I have mentioned before, is what Moldova has that is very different to Ukraine, is 800,000 (22/23%) of its population, holding Romanian passports via grandfather rights, as well as Moldavian citizenship.

That makes 800,000 EU citizens – and EU citizenship is a point made very clear on every EU Member State passport.

By extension, as Romania is also a NATO member, that makes 800,000 NATO citizens to protect – a number large enough it can hardly be ignored in the western capitals, particularly as Bucharest must be sure to raise the matter if circumstances dictate.

Quite clearly, what is good for The Kremlin goose when over-extending the right to protect mantra to every Russian speaker regardless of ethnicity or nationality – also suits the Romanian gander when it comes to actual bona fide passport holding citizens.

One would hope that the EU and NATO are making such matters known to The Kremlin in very clear terms.  800,000 of “our” citizens live there.  We will protect them even though Moldova is not covered by Article 5.

At the very least making such firm statements may have the effect of curbing Kremlin action to little more than the on-going and continued diplomatic frustrations and attempted spoilers with regards to Moldova – but little more.  Perhaps The Kremlin would go as far as recognising Transnistria in retaliation, but maybe it will anyway.

Conversely of course, if that firm European line is taken, and a continually belligerent Kremlin simply calls that bluff straying outside of Transnistria, hard power may have to be the result – with geography on the side of Romania.

Whilst Russian troops heading into Odessa from Transnistria will raise yet more collective western tutting – a different response may be necessary if they head into Moldova.

Whatever the case, I must admit to being surprised that nobody I have read thus far, has mentioned that 22% of the Moldavian population actually hold Romanian passports – which has implications by way of considerations, policy and justification for Romania, the EU and NATO.

Something quite different from Ukraine that nobody seems to have mentioned.

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Back to the east – again

April 16, 2014

As promised yesterday, after a brief local interlude, back to matters of national importance.

Last evening I spent a few hours in the company of Mr Christian Caryl of Foreign Policy discussing the situation both within Ukraine and externally with regard to western options to assist Ukraine – short of military boots on the ground.

Quite what will be used by Foreign Policy by way of direct quotes and/or the discussed possible paths to enhance assistance to Ukraine I am as yet unsure – so matters discussed that are controlled externally of Ukraine by western actors I shall leave to one side for now.

An enjoyable evening to be frank – and a few Moscow-centric tales from when we both lived there were exchanged from days gone by too.

This I will stick with matters internal that should be controlled by Ukraine – with or without western assistance – and are unlikely to feature prominently in anything he writes attributed directly or loosely to me.

In the east of Ukraine there are but 3 key actors when it comes to the situation on the ground and the realities they may bring – or not.  Those actors are The Kremlin/Mr Putin, Rinat Akhmetov and Yulia Tymoshenko.

Crudely outlined, The Kremlin is the aggressor and no mistake should be made about that.

Mr Akhmetov is currently a “nowhere man” who needs to decide where he is going to align himself – Where best does his self-interest lay?  Whose chess piece is he and how will he allow himself to be played?

chess

Perhaps that will be answered as and when Ukraine takes a necessary stand and the results of that become clearer to him.

Yulia Tymoshenko leads the biggest faction in parliament.  Her people act as interim President, interim Prime Minister, interim RADA speaker, interim Secretary of the National Defence Council etc.  If Ukraine is lost – or parts of it lost – then she will be perceived as being responsible for whatever actions occurred, or failed to occur.

As of yesterday she was still advocating restraint rather than the use of force against those holding government buildings in the east – going against her own people who wanted to employ a counterinsurgency/counter terrorist operation against the very small number of people who are involved in the armed seizure of buildings in the east of the country.

Her position today has changed – dramatically – from one of restraint, to one of accepting that unless Ukraine makes a stand, it will be lost.  Having now fallen in line with the thinking of the interim government, a far more robust response now seems far more likely.  The consequences of which we shall see unfold over the next few hours and days.

What is happening on the ground now will not be influenced by western action/sanctions to the benefit of Ukraine.  Though quite probably the lack of/glacial actions of the west will have influence – by way of complete disregard by The Kremlin – on the ground now and in the immediate future.

The Geneva 17th April negotiations between the USA, EU, Ukraine and Russia are now nothing but a chat for the sake of chatting – nothing will come from them whatsoever by way of resolution.  Entrenched positions will quite probably become more entrenched.

The most important questions now relating to territorial integrity are how effectively can the Ukrainian authorities contain these actions within the east?  What will The Kremlin response be should the leadership of Ukraine be successful in taking back the seized buildings – both with or without casualties?  What preparations have the Ukrainian authorities made for increased destabilising efforts looking to the Easter weekend, 1st and 9th May public holidays, and the presidential elections on 25 May?

We all know very well what is coming, particularly between now and the end of May.  It ranges from continued agitation in the east at best, to military invasion at worst.  The Kremlin stopping is simply not going to happen.

We all knew what would happen in eastern Ukraine these past weeks before it happened, and also what occurs on what has become traditionally eventful “protest Sundays” here.  More attempts – successful or otherwise – to seize government buildings will occur.

Will the authorities be prepared this time?  Thus far preparation seems to have been conspicuous by its absence, despite the predictability.

 

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Odessa Mayor elections – very strange!

April 15, 2014

Yes dear readers I know there are matters of urgent national importance unraveling on a minute by minute basis in Ukraine at the moment – but – today is one of those few Odessa-centric entries.  A return to matters national tomorrow.

You may remember early this month I wrote an entry about the strength – or not – of Party Regions in Odessa post the implosion that followed the speedy exit of the Yanukovych clique.

After the failed coup attempt aty Odessa City Hall in that entry, the next is due today.  Whether it will have the same dismal result we shall see.

However, concluding that entry as I did with this penultimate paragraph – “The next political attempt to remove Oleg Bryndaka will now take on 15th April, just over a month before the elections for Mayor occur on 25th May. The mayoral elections are very likely to return Eduard Gurvitz – a current UDAR MP – to the mayoral position he vacated only a few years ago in a disputed election result.” – there is a need to expand upon it, as circumstances may change dramatically that call for a caveat.

Firstly I have become aware of a proposed law that will change the mayoral elections from a single round of voting into a two round affair.  This law due to be submitted and possibly adopted by the end of April.

I must admit I am never overly keen on electoral laws changing so close to elections, and I suspect many election monitoring organisations may not be too pleased either.  A healthy six month gap between new laws and elections always seems more appropriate to give all concerned the chance to fully understand any changes.

It also changes the chances of Mr Gurvitz whom I mention in the above quote.

Currently there are only really two candidates who stand a realistic chance of winning.  Eduard Gurvitz and Gennady Truhanov – though I understand that Igor Markov is considering running and that would make three.  No others either already entered or who would enter before 28th April candidate deadline will stand a chance worthy of a paragraph.

gurv

Having held the position of Odessa Mayor before and doing a far better job than his predecessor ot those that followed him in the eyes of many, Mr Gurvitz would certainly win the mayoral election if the law remains the same and the first past the post system based upon a single round of voting.

It appears he is so confident that he has not yet even started a media campaign.  That said he was seen with Sergey Kivalov, who lives just down the road from me, two days ago here in Odessa.  Sergey owns three local TV stations amongst his wide business empire.

Undoubtedly Sergey Kivalov would back Mr Gurvitz before any other candidate despite them coming from opposing political camps.  Business interests before politics as is usual in the feckless world in which they live.

Mr Gurvitz is also doing the rounds with the serious local business elite – but no media campaign whatsoever.  No TV, no radio, no posters – not even a flyer.

Perhaps soon early?  Not for his opposing candidates it’s not.

genn

In  contrast, Mr Truhanov has already started his mayoral campaign.  He is a candidate that would benefit from two rounds of voting and is likely to pick up quite a lot of votes of those eliminated in any first round.  He, like Mr Gurvitz, is currently a serving RADA MP.

Unlike Mr Gurvitz, or indeed Mr Markov who I will come on to, Mr Truhanov is also a very hard businessman and those who cross his business interests locally discover what a mistake that can be – even if simply protesting about the raising of car parking fees, an enterprise he controls across the city.  That is not to infer Mr Truhanov is personally taking part in any such “negotiation” per the above link – but it reinforces his reputation.

If the new law is passed and if the mayoral election went to a second round – Mr Truhanov’s chances improve dramatically.  In fact he may be favourite to win in such circumstances if only he and Mr Gurvitz go forward as the two remaining candidates.

igor

Then there is my neighbour, Igor Markov.  Just released from prison having crossed Viktor Yanukovych.  His RADA MP mandate now returned to him.  He would make the third (currently RADA MP) candidate with a realistic chance of winning.

Mr Markov is currently considering running but has made no decision yet.  He leads the Russia-leaning Rodina party in Odessa – though quite how Russia leaning it truly is (besides language issues) is hard to tell.  Secession of Odessa to Russia is certainly not on his agenda.

He is very good friends with Yulia Tymoshenko and has been for many years – Let not politics get in the way of their mutual business interests in Odessa.  Bizarrely he could be her favoured candidate of the three – despite being “Russia-leaning”.

Igor also owns (Russia-leaning obviously) Art TV amongst numerous business interests in the city.

(In case you are wondering there are only really 3 local unmistakably Russia-leaning local TV stations from about 20 local channels in Odessa.  They are Art TV, Reporter and Academia – a tip for election monitors that come to Odessa – National channels and their biases are a different matter for a different entry.)

If Mr Markov decides to run, and I suspect he will decide very close to the 28th April deadline, then I will be forced to revisit the chances of Messrs Gurvitz and Truhanov once more – upon entering the race his dynamic changes any two round election quite dramatically – particularly for Mr Truhanov who could possibly fail to get into the second round.

What seems quite bizarre is that it may very well be that this term in office runs only until October when a new city council is to be elected.  (Hopefully new national RADA elections at the same time too).  Normally and according to statute, which as I say may chance this month, the city council and mayoral elections occur simultaneously with terms of office running concurrently.

The forced resignation of the last mayor by the Yanukovych regime providing an apparent need to fill the vacant Mayor spot at the same time the constituency go to the polls for presidential elections for the current interim government.  The more unquestionably legitimate leadership figures, as quickly as possible, the better from their perspective naturally.

In summary the situation seems rather messy.  Questions of new laws – or not – within weeks of elections.  Popular candidates running without any media campaign whatsoever.  Two (or three) candidates (of which the most Russian-leaning would be Ms Tymoshenko’s pick) running for an office that may only be held until October, where upon there seems every likelihood further mayoral elections will occur together with the rest of the city council, unless the legislature are on the ball – which is unlikely given the competence of Ukrainian law makers.

It makes today’s second attempt to oust the current acting leader seem somewhat pointless – until we recall he is a supporter the of federalisation of Ukraine, and damage is easily done by such people if left in a position to do so in the current circumstances.

All really rather discombobulated!

A return to broad brush strokes and national issues tomorrow, as I know most readers prefer that than to read local tittle-tattle.

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Bolshevik Building Blocks (History repeating?)

April 14, 2014

Only two weeks ago I wrote an entry - not for the first time – mentioning the possibility that The Kremlin was seeking to create situation mirroring the instability that has forever surrounded Bosnia-Herzegovina for Ukraine.

That will certainly be an option following what are likely to be entirely fruitless talks between the USA, EU, Ukraine and Russia on 17th April.

I see no way Ukraine can accommodate many – if any – Kremlin demands, either in part or in full other than some previously announced devolution of powers to the regions and persevering the existing language laws.

In no way can Ukraine grant individual regions the ability to create their own foreign policy, or agree to formal federalisation breaking the nation into nice bite-sized chunks for The Kremlin to feast itself upon when it has the urge to do so – or threaten to feed upon should Kyiv challenge The Kremlin’s view of what it should be doing at some time in the future.

However, it comes as little surprise that the “little green men” that appeared in Crimea have now started to appear in eastern Ukraine.  The little green men very professionally taking over State buildings in a manner far more practiced than last weeks efforts in eastern Ukraine – though both were successful.

slov

Similarities abound in appearance, weaponry and method – though similar outcomes may not necessarily manifest themselves or be desired within The Kremlin – at least yet.  Clearly these actions would seem a brazen attempt by The Kremlin to bolster its negotiating hand for the 17th.

Ultimately Ukraine has but one good choice regarding its future – to go its own way and refuse the collar and leash being forced upon it again.  In doing so, Ukraine must also try and navigate no obvious good choices in the current circumstances.

To do nothing allows Kremlin realities to take hold on the ground – again – just like Crimea.  To confront those realities with force will eventually provide The Kremlin with the excuse it has been trying to provoke for more than a month.  To crumble to Kremlin demands with such an overwhelming number of the population clearly unwilling to cede to Kremlin rule – either de facto or de jure – is also not an option.

Dispersing such small numbers of patriotically challenged locals and Kremlin insurgents to the four winds is not really an option when considering Kremlin command and control is running the show in eastern Ukraine.  Reorganisation a simple task.  Containment is therefore the only option – but an option that allows for temporary facts on the ground to become embedded and possibly permanent as occurred in Crimea.

In short Ukraine has little option other than to try and change the situation on the ground – carefully – prior to any negotiations or face another Kremlin driven fait accompli – the longer it waits to do so, the more difficult it will be.  The question is whether undoubted casualties would initiate Russian armour crossing the border in a perverted interpretation of “Right to Protect”?  If that happens war would seem inevitable and if Europe worries over illegal migration, the number of refugees would dwarf it.

The manner in which this is all occurring seems so very reminiscent of Bolshevik methodology when  dismembering Ukraine post 1917.  The declaring of soviet republics in regions, following up with the threat of and/or use of force.  A case of history repeating – or at least methodology mirroring – this time dismembering town by town and city by city?

Somewhere in amongst the works of Ivan Ilyin, the Bolshevik building blocks of post 1917, and the unstable situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is a range of outcomes for Ukraine at the hands of The Kremlin should it get its way either in part or in full.  If it takes The Kremlin a decade or two in order to fully realise its desires in Ukraine – then that is what it will do.  Giving up on Ukraine is not a Kremlin option.

None of this is especially appealing – but its prevention is going to cause severe and unavoidable  pain, perhaps giving the appearance of haplessness at times.  With no easy route forward, and no desire to go backward despite Kremlin wishes, it appears the only sensible option is to stand firm as robustly as is necessary on a day to day, week to week basis – for a very long time to come.

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Making it seem achievable – Ukraine

April 13, 2014

Over the past few weeks I have met with a great many Ukraine based senior diplomats passing through Odessa trying to get a feel for how stable things are and the general mood of the city – that, and my thoughts upon the local politics and mayoral elections, who owns whom, who is siding with whom and why, likely outcomes locally etc -  not to mention the presidential elections and support – or not – for any candidates and what will follow.

Quite rightly too.

Whilst it has taken the Ukrainian leadership weeks to visit eastern Ukraine despite a desperate need to do so far earlier than this week, the western diplomatic corps have been doing a tour of the nation taking part in round tables, television interviews, local government meetings – and liaising with people like me in far less public arenas to empty our heads both as to the realities on the ground, and to collect, collate and evaluate information and suggestions of how to progress and promote the democratic path forward.

In short they are doing what their respective governments expect and pay them to do.

Naturally I am not going to identify the “who” and “when” or even specifically “what” has been said – some of it is rather sensitive and needless to say all of it strictly off the record.

However amongst this rather large number, I have not met anybody from the EU Delegation to Ukraine.  They have all been diplomats from sovereign nations.

Now I will be the first to admit, when it comes to numbers, the combined diplomatic army of the sovereign nations in Ukraine far outstrips the number of diplomats directly on the EU payroll – but nevertheless, sovereign diplomats are not necessarily a collective army when it comes to matter Ukrainian.  Common interests and goals there may be – or not – but they are working first and foremost in the interests of their sovereign employers as we would all expect.

Thus I will make this entry one that centres around a common issue I raised with them all, and one that none are individually responsible for answering – that responsibility laying with the EU Delegation to Ukraine and/or the current interim government.  To my mind the responsibility resides with both.

One point (of many) I have repeatedly raised – and will continue to raise with whichever diplomat contacts me next – is that of attainment vis a vis desires.

For those that are looking westward and desire greater integration, it is surely time to show just how attainable that actually is – in practical and tangible everyday ways.

One example I gave was that of trade and Ukrainian products that already meet EU standards.

Somewhere between 20 – 30% of Ukrainian products already meet, and another 10% or so with simple changes to things like packaging, would meet, EU standards (not to mention ISOs).

EC App

Thus EU standards are not only achievable but have already been achieved by certain producers big and small across several market sectors – and yet nobody has produced a consolidated list that publicises what has already been achieved and is easily identifiable to a Ukrainian public that also buys those products.

Why not?

Would it not show quite clearly that European integration is not a pipe dream, but is something not only achievable, it is actually underway in practical and tangible terms?

Is it not an easy public relations win, psychologically fortifying for the believers, irrefutable for the detractors,  and also cheap to do?

Considering the tens of thousands of spam commercial comments this blog gets advertising all and sundry each and every year – why, in all the years it has been running, has there never once been a comment offering/advertising a method of attaining EU standards?

Is there a campaign or programme to help Ukrainian businesses over the compliance line?  If there is I would happily write an entry about in Russian (my Ukrainian is not good enough) to raise its profile and direct Ukrainian business appropriately.

If it is policy to talk the talk in an effort to make Ukraine walk the walk – why is it that those that can be held up as examples of success with regard European integration/standardisation aren’t?

I have to say, nobody could give me an answer to that, despite all considering it a valid public relations theme.

Perhaps if I say it often enough, and if it is repeated enough by the sovereign diplomats to the EU diplomats, eventually something will be done to make the Ukrainian public aware that they are not at the very start of a long process, but actually they are already on the way – and have been for some time.

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Soft Power

April 12, 2014

This is by far the most interesting and fascinating thing I have read all week.

In fact it is probably the most interesting and fascinating document I have ever read when it comes to the subject of “soft power.”

It is a very long read – so I will keep this entry short.

Suffice to say that whilst it has nothing to do with Ukraine specifically – right now it could not be more appropriate reading through a Ukrainian lens.

Good and thought provoking stuff, so click on the link!

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