Well here is a dilemma. 25 years ago Chernobyl exploded and caused a massive environmental disaster. Everyone knows this. It also sits very near the Belarus border, which unless you live in these here parts may escape your attention.
Undoubtedly Belarus suffered greatly from the effects of Chernobyl just as Ukraine did.
It is therefore a delicate matter not to invite the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, to the 25th anniversary commemorations given the shared tragedy. However invited he was not.
Why was he not invited given that his nation shared the environmental and health fallout from Chernobyl? The answer is that the EU President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said he would not attend if the Belarusian President did.
Very difficult position for the leadership of Ukraine. In effect do you snub the leader of a nation with whom you share a major tragedy and lasting legacy and welcome your future, or do you snub your future to share the pain of the past with a fellow sufferer?
The decision was made to look forwards and not back. Thus Mr Barroso came to the Ukrainian nuclear safety meetings and Chernobyl commemorations and President Lukashenko was not invited.
This prompted the Belorussian President to state “Ask Yanukovych that question – why was the Belarusian President not at these events? You should ask them. Unfortunately the current leadership of Ukraine is a lousy one,” when asked why he wasn’t attending.
Not a statement to encourage interaction without your immediate neighbour. That said, he saved his more pointed comments for Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU. “On the subjects of bastards like Barroso and others – who is Barroso anyway? There was a Barroso in Portugal. But they kicked him out and put him to work in the European Commission. The last thing I want to know about European officials is who said this or that. There are thousands of them,” he added.
“They’re all crooks. So I don’t want to talk about any Barrosos or other bastards like that.”
So did Mr Barroso manipulate the Ukrainian leadership to choose between his attendance and that of President Lukashenko? Looking at the fourth from bottom paragraph of this, it seems he did.
As benign as this incident really is, it would seem to be yet another pointer towards the EU future and not the ex-Soviet past. Someone in Brussels no doubt considers this a major political victory.