Archive for June, 2013


PACE removes paragraph about Ukraine from resolution

June 30, 2013

Here is an interesting detail relating to the PACE resolution on “Keeping political and criminal responsibility separate”.

It appears that struck from this resolution was the following paragraph relating to Ukraine:

“Concerning Ukraine, the criminal cases brought against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko have given rise to severe criticism from the international community.  The committee is deeply troubled by the manner in which the country’s criminal justice system has been abused in order to persecute political opponents. It considers that in both these cases, the principles of the separation of political and criminal responsibility have been violated.”

The paragraph was certainly included in Mr Omtzigt’s original draft as can been seen here on the very first page.

Yet here, in the final adopted text as backed by all 86 nations that voted, the paragraph has been consigned to the Council of Europe rubbish bin with all reference to Ukraine, Tymoshenko and Lutsenko completely expunged from the record.

And so one has to ponder why this paragraph was removed.

Was it the case that PACE wanted a generic, broad-brushed statement applicable to all and thus deliberately decided to omit mention of specific nations (such as Iceland and Ukraine)?

Is it that the votes were simply not there should that paragraph have been included and thus the lowest common denominator with regards text that could garner enough votes went forward?

Is it that some PACE council members do not see the cases of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko as purely political persecution but believe there were criminal/dubious aspects behind their decision making that rightly warranted the instigation of the cases against them?

Who was behind the diplomacy, and who gathered sufficient support for that paragraph to be stricken?

Is it perhaps that PACE does not want to rock the boat regarding the EU delegation to Ukraine and the possibility (real or supposed) that Tymoshenko may be sent into voluntary exile in Germany for medical treatment in a manner so timely it facilitates the signing of the AA and DCFTA between Ukraine and the EU in November?

It would be interesting to know the motivation(s) for dropping such a pointed and critical paragraph.


Ukrainian Greek Orthodoxy apologises to Poland

June 29, 2013

Here is an interesting development in the contentious history of Polish/Ukrainian relations.

The Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church has publicly apologised for the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army at Volhynia in 1943 – an apology accepted by the Polish Archbishop calling it “a sign of sound and brave patriotism, free from nationalist or backward thinking.

It has to be said, in accepting the apology, the Polish Archbishop shows a spirit of reconciliation no less “free from nationalist or backward thinking” either.

Unfortunately, the theatre of Ukrainian academia and historians seems to be  somewhat less “free from nationalist or backward thinking” in some quarters.


The death of Nabucco – But can the Tap help Ukraine?

June 28, 2013

The EU’s long standing energy white elephant, the gas pipeline called Nabucco that was supposed to route gas directly from the Caspian Sea to the EU avoiding Russia looks finally to be put to the sword at some time today by Azerbaijan.

It seems an alternative pipeline named Tap will get the nod to supply gas to the EU avoiding Russia instead – with a 10 bcm annual capacity.

Naturally Nabucco, Tap or the Russian South Stream pipeline all avoid Ukraine so it is a matter of which does less damage – or alternatively, given the recent Ukrainian importation of Russian gas via the EU at far cheaper prices than those agreed by Tymoshenko that come direct from Russia, the question to be asked is will/can Tap further de-leverage Ukraine from Russian gas dependency.

Can and will Azerbaijani gas be pumped into Ukraine via the EU via the Tap pipeline that is to be given the nod by the Azerbaijani government some time today?

The route for the Tap pipeline is from Azerbaijan. through Turkey and Greece under the Adriatic Sea and arrive in the EU via Italy – a far distance from Ukraine if there is an interest from Ukraine to have Caspian Sea gas pumped into the nation.


The losing Nabucco pipeline would have run via Turkey into Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and end in Austria – with obvious existing Soviet gas infrastructure between Ukraine and the other ex-Communist States that would have meant pumping  Azerbaijani gas into Ukraine a fairly simple matter.

Can Ukraine tap the Caspian Tap – at a cost cheaper than Russian gas?  That is the question.


Svoboda leaders persona non grata in the USA?

June 27, 2013

Here is an interesting tale – which seems to leave readers in limbo as to any outcome.

It would appear the “Today” media outlet has reported that Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Svoboda Party and a Svoboda Deputy named Ihor Miroshnichenko have been made persona non grata by the USA.

This, it is claimed, is due to Hilary Clinton, stalwart supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko – to the point of pooh-poohing the lobbying of various Jewish organisations including the Wiesenthal Centre to make Tyahnybok and Miroshnichenko persona non grata in the USA. –  no longer being Secretary of State.

Tyahnybok and Miroshnichenko have been named by Jewish groups as some of the most antisemitic politicians on the planet apparently.

The new Secretary of State, Mr Kerry, it is claimed, is far more receptive to the Jewish lobbying to the point where the Wiesenthal Centre has stated that the issue relating to Tyahnybok and Miroshnichenko has been resolved “positively” with the USA.

The “Today” media outlet would not identify its sources when challenged by Svoboda – referring anybody seeking confirmation or denial to speak with the US State Department or the US Embassy Kyiv.

Svoboda completely refute the “Today” article, citing Svoboda attending a US Embassy meeting only last week – as if that makes any difference to persona non grata lists.

Let’s be quite clear – meetings in an Embassy have no inference good or bad when it comes to who any nation will allow into its country.

Svoboda are a party of relevance in so much as they are in parliament and make up a formally recognised part of a united effort amongst opposition parties.  Ergo not only would it be foolish not to have dialogue with Svoboda, it would also undermine the democracy that put Svoboda into parliament as well – but that does not mean that those involved in discussions and meetings that occur in a national embassy will also be welcome in that nation’s country.

International diplomacy, not to mention diplomatic cables back to a home country, need to be, above all else, as accurate as possible – and that means being as inclusive and as talkative as is possible with all relevant actors within any nation…..even if they are not palatable for the diplomats who have to meet them, or a domestic public back home wondering why they are given the time of day at all – even at the embassy.

The Wiesenthal Centre statement relating to the person non grata lobbying over Tyahnybok and Miroshnichenko having a “positive” outcome cannot be understood as both men being classed as persona non grata by the US either.

In light of both Klitschko and Yatseniuk – the other opposition party leaders – having both been in the USA this year, it may be that behind closed doors Messrs Tyahnybok and Miroshnichenko have been advised that any application to visit the USA would be viewed in a very poor light and thus it is better not to apply – whilst the US need not go to the lengths of putting them on a persona non grata list, they save a public humiliation and, needless to say, the Jewish lobby get a “positive” resolution.

If the “Today” article was accurate, or if my meandering within the “diplomatic grey” is close to the mark – one does wonder how the USA would deal with a victorious opposition coalition that includes Svoboda.  The EU has already made clear their distaste for the party in numerous pointed public statements to the point where in opposition or in majority Svoboda would not be welcome – not to mention what appear to be obvious snubs of late.

Perhaps the only way the truth of this would be discovered is when either Svoboda Party men want to visit the USA – however, all things being equal, I would put my money of the Jewish lobby insuring their “positive” outcome.


Failed State Index 2013 – Ukraine

June 26, 2013

The 2013 Failed State Index has been released – and unsurprisingly, Ukraine is fairly stable at 117th.


EU to offer another “them” and “us” genetically modified carrot to EaP nations at Vilnius?

June 25, 2013

“Them” and “us” politics are not exactly conducive to democracy – that much must be fairly clear to even the most retarded of people with a very basic understanding of democracy and the necessary inclusiveness and tolerance it demands.

A brief understanding of the work of Horowitz, Sklar, Dhal, Linz  or Lijphart, their analysis and recommendations relating to ethnicity in democracy makes it painfully clear even for the most dunce-like that identity politics active within the whole running along longstanding and ascriptive divides simply isn’t healthy for democracy promotion and consolidation.

By ascriptive identity I would include “Eastern European/EaP nations” if the scholarly definition of “ascriptive” is fully applied – namely “an identity attributed by others, established at birth, or by language, race, religion, region or other attributes of common origin” – in this case former Soviet nations as far as the EU attributes identity.

Thus the “them” and “us” politics already begins by segregating “Europeans”.

Already having been given only vague reference to Article 49 when it comes to actual EU membership even after agreeing to and completing difficult, painful, slow, meandering steps to conclude initialing or signing Association Agreements and DCFTAs, the EaP are about to be offered another half/stunted/genetically modified carrot by the EU with the bizarre appearance of trying to pull the EaP nations closer whilst also keeping them at arms length – again!

It appears that at the Vilnius Summit, Estonia plans to table a method of creating a “common economic space” between the EU and EaP nations.

Now whilst I can see that an incremental step maybe necessary for both sides between where the EaP nations are now and EU Membership criteria – and political Association Agreements and DCFTAs if fully legislated for and implemented certainly get EaP nations within sniffing distance of having a realistic chance of successfully opening accession chapters without currently spooking some EU members, and avoids providing a challenge seemingly insurmountable to the EaP nations in one go – what exactly does a “common economic space” carrot achieve by way of bite-sized progression and inclusiveness?

Surely offering accession to the longstanding standards of the existing, and perceptually inclusive European Economic Area to nations making progress along AA and DCFTA lines anyway is possible – it is, after all is said and done, a fully recognised EU institution that removes the “them” and “us” politics to a substantial degree and  is thus a far better carrot to offer than that of creating a mirror entity to reinforce the identity politics currently existing.

Estonia – don’t play around tabling the creation of a mirror of the EEA under a different name to reinforce the existing  identity politics – offer accession to a longstanding institution like the EEA (and all it entails) should EaP nations meet the grade, thus becoming inclusive within a longstanding EU institution without having to make promises above and beyond vague reference to Article 49 accession rights.

Grow a pair – be bold and brave!  (After all they may not make the grade.)


Westerwelle urges opposition to nominate a single presidential candidate

June 24, 2013

I have written about the strategy of the opposition parties nominating a single candidate – or not – for the Ukrainian presidency in 2015 several times – most recently here when doubting Ms Tymoshenko’s motivations for not supporting a single candidate in the first round.

Democracy would dictate that any legally able politician wanting to run should be able to run regardless of what realistic chance they have of winning.  Strategy in the case of the current opposition however, would certainly favour nominating a single candidate early and uniting around them as soon as possible, regardless of their party.

Quite obviously, Germany recognises that this strategy is the only effective way to guarantee a real head to head contest beginning in round one – and in doing so significantly reduce the chance of electoral fraud as any parallel vote count would be much simpler – and unlikely as it is, may even remove the need for a second round of voting.

The question is, can the opposition parties actually deliver a single candidate – or will egos ultimately scuttle that idea?

If the single candidate is not Tymoshenko – which is unlikely – or a representative of her Batkivshchyna Party (Yatseniuk), will she really allow Klitschko (or although very unlikely, Tyahnybok)  to run unhindered?  – Particularly so given her stance that there should be no single candidate from the opposition parties in the first round?  Is she not likely to insist a Batkivshchyna Party member run and find a Tymoshenko loyalist to do so?

We have to accept that the Batkivshchyna Party is simply not strong enough to control Tymoshenko – it was after all, created to be nothing more than a vehicle for Yulia Tymoshenko from the very beginning and has failed to out-grow her whilst she has been incarcerated.

Thus, despite the strategy of a single opposition candidate being one that is likely to produce the best results for the opposition, can anyone really see it going ahead without Tymoshenko torpedoing it if her Batkivshchyna Party horse not be the one chosen to run?


Who didn’t Germany’s FM Westerwelle meet in Ukraine?

June 23, 2013

A few days ago, Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was in Ukraine.

He met the President and the government for talks over various issues and left in somewhat positive mood it appears.

He also met the leaders of the opposition, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Vitali Klitschko.

Such things are standard of course – and not to meet with president, government and opposition leaders would be out of the ordinary.

And yet FM Westerwelle didn’t meet with Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of Svoboda and part of the tri-party opposition.

Anybody who follows diplomacy and diplomatic or political protocol will surely have noticed they did not meet and will be asking why?

Why meet with Yatseniuk and Klitschko but not Tyahnybok when meeting the opposition leaders?

Was Tyahnybok too busy to meet the German Foreign Minister?  Not according to his twitter account, the Svoboda Party website or Tyahnybok’s Facebook page.

Busy or not, would Tyahnybok not differ, postpone or delay whatever he had planned in order to meet the German Foreign Minister in his capacity as the leader of a significant opposition party?

In such a capacity would he snub the German Foreign Minister if invited to attend a meeting with him and fellow opposition leaders? – Highly unlikely!

So why was he not present with Yatseniuk and Klitschko?

The answer one suspects, is that he was neither invited nor welcome.

As the EPP and the socialist parties within the European Parliament, not to mention numerous EU Member States have publicly raised their concerns over the fact Batkivshchyna and UDAR are in an alliance with Svoboda on several occasions – perhaps this is a sign of things to come for Tyahnybok, Svoboda and the Ukrainian opposition alliance.

How many times must Tyahnybok and Svoboda be publicly and repeatedly snubbed before Yatseniuk and Klitschko realise that whether in opposition or in power, their alliance with Tyahnybok and Svoboda is going to do nothing but hurt and/or undermine their relationship with Europe?

Something to watch for when European political personalities visit Ukraine and meet all sides during their time here.  How many times will Tyahnybok and Svoboda be publicly snubbed before the media and the people begin to notice?

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