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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Crimea: from sorrow to triumph

Oleksandr FORMANCHUK: “This is not about acceding to the Customs Union, Ukraine is still willing to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union, but Russia’s interests have to be taken into account...”
24 December, 2013 - 12:21

The documents and agreements signed in Moscow after the sixth meeting of the Yanukovych-Putin Commission prompted conflicting reactions in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, ranging from optimism and even euphoria to pessimism and sadness, even though Ukrainian public was unable to fully assess the content of these documents. The Day discussed meaning of these agreements and their impact on the future of Ukraine with renowned political scientist, chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Crimea’s Expert Council Oleksandr FORMANCHUK.

Some experts call signing of the Moscow agreements a predictable event, others see it as an unexpected one. Where do you stand?

“Not only the opposition, but also supporters of Viktor Yanukovych were neither prepared nor hoping that the president would be able to sign such agreements as he had. Although had they closely watched the history and the results of his earlier visits, previously called failures, I think they would have noticed that these trips and meetings were simply accumulating the potential that resulted in such agreements these days. I see nothing accidental in Yanukovych’s behavior in recent months, including ‘Euro pause,’ which was designed and applied at the very moment when he realized that he was in any case to return to Moscow and enter into agreements of this kind...”

Crimea is especially polarized, as its ethnic Russian residents believe the agreements to be a victory, almost a triumph, but Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars are pessimistic, so I want to ask you, firstly, how important the agreements are for the region as a whole, and secondly, can such a polarized society have a common interest?

“The cause of polarization is lack of time to understand this common interest. Crimea and all parts of its population will benefit from the Moscow agreements simply because we have autonomy, and the results of the Independence Square protests, and, with the improving economy, 2014 should see a more effective dialog between the two poles of public opinion here, and I hope they will find a common ground. I must say that every protest wave has only strengthened the Crimean autonomy as it expanded the dialog space. So there is no reason for pessimism as well as euphoria, because benefits will become available only through coordinated work and joint effort, dialog and cooperation. It is time to start working.”

Many people have made sweeping conclusions, saying that Ukraine has said its farewell to the EU, and hello to the Customs Union (CU)... Is this true?

“The fact is that such a complex policy area as international relations should always be treated dialectically, not antinomically. The only formula that is now available to Ukraine is never to sign the EU Association Agreement if it alienates Russia, as well as never to accede to the CU if it alienates the EU. Ukraine’s geopolitical and transit position itself dictates this logic, formerly called ‘the multi-vector approach to foreign policy.’ One can call it however one wants, but even Merkel said that Ukraine should not be forced to sign the EU Association Agreement as an ‘either/or’ issue.

“In this sense, of course, we understand that there is very tough competition between great blocs today, specifically between the EU and the possibly emerging Eurasian Union, there are other blocs, too, both already existing and just emerging, and this situation has arisen from the iron logic dictated by globalization, it is a part of the global agenda. So Ukraine got into this cleft against its will, and each party tried and is trying to use it at some stage for their own purposes in this competition.

“I must give credit to Ukraine as a country and its president as well as the opposition and protesters, because, in fact, it was Euromaidan that allowed the government to stick firmly to purely national interests and withstand this geopolitical pressure. In this regard, both Euromaidan and the opposition played a positive role, especially when the president was able to hold this pause and then sign the agreements with the Kremlin which have saved Ukrainian economy from collapse.

“All must understand that this is not about acceding to the CU, it is totally impossible, Ukraine is still willing to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, but Russia’s interests have to be taken into account, as well as, in fact, the interests of the entire post-Soviet space. It will benefit not only Russia, not only Ukraine, but also the European Union and the world.”

By Mykola SEMENA, The Day, Simferopol
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