At a gathering of politicians, intellectuals, civil society, media and assorted people of note, specifically aimed at Ukraine and its European path, the 10th Yalta European Strategy meeting has produced numerous speeches and addresses.
They have ranged from positions firmly established upon ideological mountain tops to the far less visionary but no less important pragmatic views from the valleys of reality.
Inspirational, cautionary, ideological, pragmatic, optimistic and reflective – all have had their proponents – and necessarily so if the conference is to actively reflect both domestic and international views of Ukraine and its direction.
The overarching theme however – Ukraine and its future.
Then, we have an address from Yulia Tymoshenko:
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
I am grateful for the opportunity to address you from behind the bars as a person who has always felt herself free. Incarceration – particularly when you are jailed unjustly for dissent and political position – is said to harden the soul. But my spirit, I can say with certainty, has not been withered by my Kafkaesque trial and imprisonment. It has, instead, been liberated because I have been forced to focus on what is essential, what is most human, what is most true – on reflections about my country. My inner feeling of freedom gives me the right to speak with you openly and responsibly.
During these two years, I have not felt myself alone even for a single moment. I have not been left alone to deal with difficult challenges and tests. A white orchid from Dalia Grybauskaitė, short notes from Carl (Bildt) and Elmar (Brok), the unexpected visit of support by Štefan (Fuele) to my prison cell in the Lukianivka, warm meetings with Presidents (Pat) Cox and (Alexander) Kwaśniewski and letters of solidarity from many world leaders – all of these were for me not only gestures of personal support but de facto solidarity and support for my dear Ukraine – the nation that belongs to Europe and deserves a better fate.
This European perspective is being constructed by us, here and now. It depends on us what would be an outcome of this process. The Association Agreement provides an opportunity for change from inside that has been needed for a long time, but in itself it doesn’t guarantee it.
Authoritarianism, disrespect to the rule of law and human rights, and poor economic governance will not disappear by default only because the Agreement is signed.
That is why I would like to call you to look beyond 2013. If the conditions for a consistent and effective implementation of the Agreement are not created, it can, unfortunately, turn into another lost opportunity.
I believe the following political, legal and institutional changes are imperative:
I would like to emphasize the priority of establishing a credible electoral system and rules (Electoral Code) for presidential and parliamentary elections that meet European standards.
I am sure that we will be able to protect our European choice, minimize the risk of massive falsifications and put an end to the authoritarian drift only by joint, transparent and inclusive efforts with the help and contribution from the European Union and the Council of Europe.
We must remove the risk of using the instrument of referendum in the conditions of uninformed society and increasingly authoritarian political system. I support the conclusions of the Venice Commission regarding the Law on Referendum, which was adopted in an unconstitutional way. I insist that we apply all possible legal and political means to abolish it.
The Constitution must be drafted not by some puppet assemblies, as it is done now, but by an open and transparent forum. The most reputable constitutional law experts, representatives of all parliamentary political parties and civil society should constitute the core of such convention. It must be supplemented by a high quality public debate with an involvement of experts from the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission. The Constitution cannot be changed bypassing the Parliament. Any changes to the Constitution must be the result of a wide political consensus between the government, opposition and civil society. The Constitution cannot be changed in the authoritarian environment.
Implementation of the Association Agreement
I am sure that the institutional mechanism for the implementation of the AA/DCFTA could be devised on the basis of the horizontal coordination model that was proposed by my government in 2008-2010. Taking into account the need for deep regulatory convergence within the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area we must substantially increase the role of the parliament and establish an institutional bridge for consultations and coordination between the relevant Committees of the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers. Civil Society must be a guarantor of independent monitoring.
Society of values and law
The European Union is a community of values and law. Ukraine could become an example of successful Europeanization for its citizens and our immediate neighbors only if it implements and consolidates European values and the rule of law. I consider this to be the main factor of the joint success of Ukraine and the EU.
My dear friends,
I want you to know that I haven’t given in and I haven’t given way to the feelings of resentment or revenge. Nothing my jailers do will degrade me, neither in my own eyes, nor in the eyes of the people who love and support me.
I am grateful for your solidarity!
We are stronger together!
I believe in Europe! I believe in European Ukraine!
This seems to be far too heavily orientated towards “me” and far too light on “Ukraine” – particularly for such an educated and erudite audience. About 50% of this address is Yulia Tymoshenko making statements about Yulia Tymoshenko – and not about Ukraine.
It seems the two years in prison reading Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Hegel, Kant, Schelling, Rawls, Wilber, Hawking, Russell, Gebser, D. Tapscott, and E.D. Williams, has done little to give Ms Tymoshenko any perspective when it comes to her ego – or how to control it. Sadly it seems this will remain her most self-destructive characteristic – and as equally destructive to those around her.
This address seems so second class compared to the more considered and erudite speeches and address that have come so far.
Fortunately for Ms Tymoshenko, there is yet time for a worse and yet equally self-centered address to be forthcoming – I’m just not sure that such erudite attendees would have speech writer so bad they could do worse!
When 50% of the words to such an enlightened audience are “Me, me me!” it has to be considered a wasted opportunity.