The newspaper Den/The Day has long been discussing the future of Europe and Ukraine’s return to Europe. The proof of this is numerous publications on this subject, particularly, by Oxana Pachlovska, a professor at the La Sapienza University of Rome, and Petro Kraliuk, an Ostroh Academy professor, on the newspaper’s pages.
This debate on the future of Europe is now reaching a new level. This follows from the launching of a project, “New Narrative for Europe,” by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The new project is supposed to take into account a rapid development of the European continent and to stress that the EU is not only about the economy and growth, but also about cultural unity and common values in a globalized world.
Barroso has called on European artists, intellectuals, scientists, academics and all European citizens to jointly explore the history, values, symbols, and cultural aspects that unite citizens and to come up with a new vision for Europe. “A new narrative for Europe not because we don’t remain loyal to the raison d’etre of the European community and the European Union; of course this remains valid. But because I think we need, in the beginning of the 21st century, namely for the new generation that is not so much identified with this narrative of Europe, to continue to tell the story of Europe,” he said among other things.
In particular, everyone wishing to contribute may choose to answer the following questions:
1. What does Europe mean for me: what should it mean to citizens?
2. Why do we need a cultural Europe today?
3. How should the “New Narrative for Europe” be shared among European citizens?
“The New Narrative” will be high on the agenda of three conferences to be held in various EU countries this and next year. The final documents will be published later, together with the essays of academics and writers. The Day has decided to support the EC president and suggests that Ukrainian intellectuals offer their own narration for Europe. So we requested Yurii Shcherbak, Doctor of Medicine, Ukrainian author, scriptwriter, political journalist, and diplomat, to offer his narrative for Europe.
“WE MUST SHOW THAT UKRAINE IS THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE AND KNOWS WHAT IT WANTS TO BRING TO EUROPE”
Yurii SHCHERBAK, diplomat and political writer:
“The initiative of the European Commission President Jose Barroso, ‘New Narrative for Europe,’ is exceptionally important not only for Europe, but also for Ukraine at a time when our return to Europe, European values and European idea of democratic freedoms is on the agenda. This initiative is absolutely in time because, on the one hand, Europe is facing serious economic and social problems and is looking for a way out of this situation, and, on the other hand, this issues a number of challenges to the nations that are part of this association. There are various proposals. For example, radicals and idealists suggest shaping sort of a nationless conglomerate of peoples called Europe or Europeans, which is totally unacceptable to very many nations, peoples, and countries that form the European Union. For example, the UK, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Germany will never accept this way of nationless development. At the same time, it is clear that reconsideration of not so much the past as the future of a united Europe is becoming a very serious imperative for this continent. Naturally, Ukraine’s role in the Europe of tomorrow and the European Union is an extremely important topic for this country. We should take no political steps unless we become aware of this role.
“Now we can hear absolutely false opinions that we will live better in Europe. As we join Europe, we will have to restructure our mentality, be much more efficient, hardworking, and competitive. In other words, we are facing a lot of serious problems.”
“EUROPE ITSELF MUST KNOW WHAT IT WILL BE GIVING IN THE FUTURE”
“Reading extracts from the first essays as part of this project, I thought that the newspaper Den had been conducting the same debate well before this initiative was announced. And Oxana Pachlovska’s essays can be printed today in European sources and presented at conferences. These reflections – sometimes painful and unpleasant for us, Ukrainians, but truthful – tell us about the situation Ukraine is in now.
“In other words, Den has begun this debate, and we can continue it. A fresh example is Petro Kraliuk’s article in the newspaper on the self-identity of Ukrainians. It shows a division of the Ukrainian people into three groups. And it will take us miles to go before we become fully aware of our Europeanness. This article is a reflection on what is needed to implement the ‘New Narrative for Europe.’
“Naturally, I would like the ‘New Narrative for Europe’ to be presented to European countries with a more philosophical assessment of Europe’s future, without reducing the issue to the current state of finances, the economy, unemployment, and other narrow pragmatic things.
“It is no longer a secret that Europe is losing its leading positions in the world, and it is now a banal metaphor that Europe is old and has stopped playing the role of the engine of intellectual and democratic development of nations and is lagging behind the Asian region. Claims are being made, especially by our northern neighbor, that there should be limited democracy (read: dictatorship) and only economic growth can bring about the prosperity of nations. It is a very serious challenge to Europe. And, of course, Europe itself must know what it will be giving in the future and what kind of a symbol it will remain for the nations of other continents.”
ON THREE EUROPEAN FEATURES
“In my view, there are three fundamental European features. The first is fostering the European values of democracy in the political, economic, and social fields. This is in what Europe differs from the US and many other countries, particularly those in Asia, where there is no political democracy but there is a rapid economic growth.
“The second is the outstanding role of culture. This is what Ms. Pachlovska emphasizes in her articles. This factor makes Europe a Europe and will form a single cultural space all over the continent, which means multiplicity of different nations and cultures. The making of a cultural space like this can be an example for other nations to follow.
“The third is the united Europe’s state structure – the making of a new-type confederation of European nations rather than a territorial empire, as was the case before this. For this kind of empires are not viable now. They are relics of the past world, as dinosaurs are today relics in biological development.
“This confederation should reflect the continent’s spiritual integrity. And Ukraine has in this case a very wide field for initiatives and self-improvement. Clearly, we are very far from European criteria, which will be a challenge. If we sign, hopefully, the EU Association Agreement, this will only be the first – a formal and important in legal terms but still the first – step. And we must ask today what will occur a year or two later, without fixating ourselves on presidential elections. Presidents come and go, but Ukraine remains.”
“WE MUST EXPORT HIGH-TECH PRODUCTS RATHER THAN RAW MATERIALS”
“We must think on how we can restructure the post-Soviet space ruined and grossly demoralized by Red totalitarianism. In my view, the way out is sustained economic development which calls for political democracy and is in line with social progress and environmental protection.
“For this to occur, we should call various conferences of intellectuals. I fully accept Barroso’s proposal that three European conferences be held. Meanwhile, we can go a parallel, albeit a creative, way. It seems to me the newspaper Den has reached a sufficient level to organize a Ukrainian conference about the ‘New Narrative for Europe’ or publish one or two issues, without waiting for conferences at which EU representatives will be tackling their pragmatic political problems. We must show that we are able and have a high potential to do so. We must show that Ukraine is thinking about the future and knows what it wants to bring to Europe. First of all, it is a huge and rich cultural heritage and our art. We have a powerful culture which must become our export product – not steel-making and chemistry that pollutes the environment and slows down Ukraine’s economic progress. We must export high-tech products rather than raw materials. We do have things to discuss in the light of EC President Jose Barroso’s infinitive the ‘New Narrative for Europe.’”