We all know how partisanship can stop things in their tracks even when the issues involved should necessarily bypass partisan lines when the national good requires it.
It happens everywhere, from US Congress gridlock over US economics to physical blockades in the Ukrainian RADA and normally because of political grandstanding rather than doing what is needed and/or what is right, and/or acting like grown adults rather than kids in a school playground.
Throughout the 2009/10 Presidential elections campaign in Ukraine, every single presidential candidate stated the Ukrainian Constitution as it then stood (after the 2005 amendments) was completely unworkable and required urgent attention and change. Not one disagreed.
On coming to power, the current President rolled back the 2005 amendments and returned Ukraine to its original Constitution, particularly unpopular with the now opposition as it returned a large amount of powers to the President ceded under the 2005 amendments.
However, a Constitutional Assembly was created under the chairmanship of independent Ukraine’s first President, Leonid Kravchuk, at the behest of opposition leader Arseny Yatseniuk and the approval of the current President. All jolly good when one considers Kravchuk is not particularly friendly with either the ruling party or any opposition parties. Necessarily about as independent as an ex-President can be when it comes to being Chair of such an organisation.
Arseniy Yatseniuk proposed such an assembly in January 2011 and it was created and working within a few months, comprising of the usual hoard of those in power, those in opposition, academics, occasionally the Venice Commission, lawyers, judges and other “interested parties” as you would expect.
The Ukrainian Constitution is a fairly long and complex document and despite being rather youthful in age compared to some constitutions, manages to contradict many currently standing statutes as well as leaving numerous areas to be defined by subsequent statue, many of which remain unwritten (such as the definition of a jury and jurors).
Certainly no quick and easy task to go through it and make sensible and necessary amendments, but an absolutely necessary task just the same. In fact clarity and agreement on a set of amendments, you would think, would be a priority for those involved, as it would provide a solid foundation to move Ukraine forwards and thus no other issue, domestic or international, should prevent it delivering to an entire nation a document in which to have a fundamental belief when it comes to the overarching law of the land.
You would hope that those responsible for this task would ignore partisan politics and do what is right for the entire nation regardless of any other circumstances, but alas, that is now no longer the case.
It seems that the opposition have decided to stop work within the Constitutional Assembly until the recent PACE Resolution on Ukraine has been implemented by the Ukrainian leadership in full.
To quote Nataliya Korolevska, (I wrote about her a weeks or so ago), “There are very clear and accurate principles for people in the constitution. But, regrettably, they have been ignored. Putting commas in other places in the sentence will not produce any results. Let them learn first how to obey the existing constitution. We shall see what happens next.”
“The most important thing is that our leader Yulia Tymoshenko made it clear in her letter that we should not sit down at the same table with swindlers and play cards with them. We will create a legitimate Constitutional Assembly, sit down together with these people and start writing after they fulfill the PACE resolution and free our leaders.”
It is absolutely and abundantly clear that Ms Tymoshenko will not be released until 2018/19 when her sentence is completed despite the amount of EU pressure being applied, and the only way an early release will occur is if the opposition win a majority at the next parliamentary election and remove the criminal Articles under which she is currently sentenced from statute. That or she will be found guilty of fraud, theft, money laundering, tax evasion etc via Somolli Ent and UESU, thus making no difference if the Articles used for her current incarceration are rescinded and conviction under it quashed. None of these scenarios are in any way guaranteed to happen, and so quite possibly much needed Constitutional amendments will be held hostage until the end of the decade.
The other option is that the Constitutional Assembly continues to work without opposition input which may well undermine its legitimacy as far as all encompassing involvement is concerned. As not all opposition parties are united, would the continued participation of a single opposition party provide enough legitimacy to the process should one wish to continue?
It is somewhat difficult to understand why Ms Tymoshenko and her allies would continue to press the EU for completion of the DCFTA and AA despite her incarceration, not wishing her circumstances to hold the Ukrainian people to ransom, and yet over something equally as important as the Ukrainian Constitution, the Ukrainian people can be held to ransom because of her circumstances.
Is it to portray the imagine of martyr internationally and yet domestically the leopard has not changed its spots?
Is the DCFTA and AA more important to Ukraine than a workable and sensible Constitution for all citizens to live by?
Is something as fundamental as the necessary amendments to the national Constitution the right tool to play partisan politics with?