Archive for September 21st, 2013


Yalta Conference – Time for today’s democracy lesson – Inclusiveness

September 21, 2013

As of now, the 10th annual Yalta Conference (Yalta European Strategy or “Yes”) is underway.

The list of speakers is both lengthy and impressive – and yet it is highly unlikely that any one of them will not deliver the same very basic message time and again.  Democracy 1 – 0 – 1.  Albeit occasionally shrouded in clever words, imagery and examples.

The consistent repetition we can expect relating to core democratic concepts wrapped in occasionallly softer and perhaps somewhat disguised prose, would tend to lead those who know nothing of Ukraine to believe that the Ukrainian political class have no understanding of democracy past electoral democracy (which they all cheat in).

That is simply not the case.  They all know very well what democracy is and how it should work.

The issue is purely one of releasing control, and the timing of that, by the political elite (across all parties) – It is a standard issue amongst those nations deemed to be in “democratic transition”.  It is not peculiar to Ukraine.

One of the greatest attractions (to me) of the Association Agreement, is that it provides a framework, time frame and domestically neutral mentor/monitor by way of the EU, providing confidence amongst a political elite so distrusting of each other, none have been prepared to loosen the reins bit by bit and allow democracy to truly and irrevocably establish itself.

Anyway, not long ago, I wrote this sentence relating to democracy:  “Is not democracy the continual friction between competing ideology and policy held within the cradle of integrity, decency and rule of law, oiled by that most necessary of ingredients – tolerance?”    Perhaps not as erudite as I could and should have been, but nonetheless all perfectly right – as far as it went.

There is naturally far move to democracy than that when scratching off that broad brush-stroked veneer I painted the governance model with in a single sentence.

There are issues such as inclusion, pluralism,  cross-cutting cleavages, responsiveness, a-political state institutions, the civil space,  basic freedoms of speech and expression etc – all that (and more) omitted from that sentence that together forms part of the very fibre of democracy.

So which to talk about?

As much as I could write about cross-cutting cleavages – there is little point – as no political party shows any interest in the concept, let alone making any attempt at it, despite any rhetoric.  Ukrainian politics has always been polarising and zero sum – and undoubtedly that is going to continue for the foreseeable future.  Very sad and retarded though it is.

However, there do seem to be some attempts, albeit indirectly and displaying an absolute lack of political spine across all parties, at inclusiveness over the past few years.

Stefan Fule talking here about the Crimean Tartar for example.  Progress made – but a long way to go.

Take note of the frame that his speech is draped upon.  The basics of democracy form that frame.  It is a frame those in Yalta will consistently use to hang their varying words of wisdom and deviations of a theme upon.

However there are issues relating to inclusiveness – not to mention tolerance – that are making the Ukrainian political class go into convulsions, whilst in others minority areas progress is being made.

We are talking about the rights of sexual minorities.  LGBT as I believe it has become known by.

Above shows one of what is likely to be very many protests that is both anti-EU and anti-LGBT outside the RADA in Kyiv.

Quite simply, such is the lack of support – which I think is politically genuine rather than one of fear by being associated with this particular minority – it is quite clear that further legislation as requested by the EU to defend LGBT rights will simply not get through the RADA.

It is not as though any political party has “come out” in support of a Bill to insure these peoples basic rights.  In a nutshell the votes are not there.


So much for inclusion in Ukraine.

Or perhaps not.

Somebody has put their creative thinking hat on – and in recognition of the fact any such Bill will simply not fly in the RADA – they are taking steps to put proposals to the EU for an alternative and less public guarantee for the rights of LGBT community.

That somebody, who has taken on the issue – quite rightly in the circumstances – is the Ukrainian Ombudsman for Human Rights.  She has literally gone to the EU and tabled alternative proposals to the EU in the hope that there can be joint work to reach a model that would insure these people their rights without rousing a public perceived to hold robust anti-LGBT positions.

Whether this works or not – and whether it is the right thing to do or not – remains to be seen.  But Ukraine is at least being seen to do something and using some creative thinking to try and achieve LGBT inclusiveness – one way rather than the other.

It has to be said, laws passed or not – even in nations where rule of law is uniformly applied (unlike Ukraine at present) – unless changes come from the bottom-up, and are so driven – societal traction often lags far behind new legislation when a lack of “buy in” occurs.

However the lack of political “buy in” and the lack of any new robust legislation may very well be seen as tacit approval for continued attitudes – even if a deal between the Ukrainian Ombudsman and the EU is struck and implemented very quietly indeed.

Unfortunately, unlike African tribal politics where a great many people with tangible, ethnic or social ties congregate in the same locations – naturally the Ukrainian LBGT community is thinly spread nationwide.

I am quite certain if they were all living heavily congregated in several voting constituencies – a political champion or two would be found – not that I would consider that a suitable option as it is too reminiscent of the ghettos of WWII – it is, theoretically, way to manipulate voting constituencies for minority groups however.

Anyway – interesting as to how this will all work out – hopefully to the satisfaction of all.

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