Where is Ukraine going?

, by Horia-Victor Lefter, Translated by Tomas Spragg

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Where is Ukraine going?

“Orange Revolution” and “presidential election” - two words that sum up the political agenda of Ukraine.

Following the election of Viktor Yanukovych as president on 7th February, 2010, many voices raised to lament the undermining of the achievements of the revolution. Such a statement however, seems a bit hasty, as only two months have elapsed since the validation of election results, which is obviously not sufficient to measure the effects the new administration’s reforms. Moreover, the initial statements, appointments and decisions of the new president have lead us to believe that the policy of Yanukovich will finally form part of the political pendulum, as practised since the independence of the Republic in 1991, although with some attenuation compared to its predecessor.

Upon his election, Yanukovych officially visited both Brussels and Moscow, which appears at odds with his pro-Russian campaign. Yanukovych stated that “the EU remains the main priority of Kiev (but) all roads lead to Moscow” in an effort to apologise to his big Russian neighbour for first visiting Brussels. In addition, there are many who argue that Ukraine will make further concessions to Russia if the country’s financial situation deteriorates. The current government, under the authority of Mykola Azarov, a doll in the hands of the president, hurry to resume negotiations with the IMF because of the state of the budget. The President also was quick to point out that, on one hand, Ukraine will not maintain it’s position as an ally with NATO due to it’s “national interests”, and that on the other hand, the country will not adhere Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, preferring to only enter the WTO, which greatly angered the Russian Prime Minister.

Other choices however, demonstrate a change in Yushchenko’s polices. The composition of the new coalition government puts an end to the cohabitation of a source of serious problems in Ukraine, which includes a pro-Russian majority, particularly since the The Minister of Education, Russophile Dmytro Tabachnyk, has newly designated national history which could bring on new visions of Moscow. Moreover, the problem may lie more in the inability of the opposition to pursue a common goal. Furthermore, the European Union appreciates that the new president has already begun negotiations to revise the gas deal signed by Yushchenko, which should ensure greater stability and security in energy relations with Russia. As for the establishment of Russian as an official language alongside Ukrainian, Yushchenko has already stated that it would only be the case in most Russian regions.

Finally, if one asks today “Where is Ukraine going?” this should not lead to a definitive answer but leave the current president time to prove himself, hoping, as one Italian journalist said "Yanukovich’s foreign policy will not be as bad as feared.’’

Image: The Ukrainian President Victor Youchenko with the Prime Minister Victor Yanoukovitch, source: www.horizons.typepad.fr

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