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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

European revolution

9 December, 2013 - 18:12

A Hungarian journalist asked me recently why we called current events in Independence Square a “revolution.” Mass protests are not a revolution. Should these protests even succeed in replacing personalities on the top, it still would not be a revolution. True revolution is a system reboot that brings a new agenda.

In the Ukrainian context, the events in Independence Square may be called a revolution only in advance. This revolution must bring comprehensive Europeanization regarding political responsibility, protection of human dignity, and economic integration.

It turns out that the Ukrainian revolution can become a European revolution. The current events in Ukraine are unique in that they force Europeans themselves to rethink their role and mission. We restore their faith which they had begun to lose gradually, the faith in their own values. It is no secret that the financial crisis that broke out in 2008 has begun to increase the numbers of the skeptics, because Europe is easy to love only as long as it is able to bribe people. Young French people, Italians, or Greeks very often complain about the EU and wonder: “What has it ever done for us?” forgetting the main thing: the union has brought peace to Europe previously torn apart by century-long wars, security to every citizen, and equal opportunities. They have all these things which most of humankind, including Ukraine, still lacks.

People generally quickly get used to good things. EU citizens take for granted what others still have to fight for. Ukrainians have reminded entire Europe what its values are. Ukraine has provided an additional argument for the united Europe to high European bureaucrats, French, German or Spanish politicians, ordinary Poles, Finns, or Portuguese.

It is now important, though, that the EU does not stop at this stage, just admiring its own significance. Ukrainians now need help, and it has to go far beyond declarations and praising our European choice.

The situation in Ukraine is becoming more and more unpredictable and uncontrollable by the day. The European revolution may become bloody. It is far from obvious that we, the Ukrainian people, or Europeans will come out as the winners from the bloodshed.

Independence Square in Ukraine is a point of interest for global actors, a platform where strategic partners of our country play their discreet games. It is important that outer, foreign darkness do not win the struggle of light and darkness in Ukraine. Of course, I do not mean the Western powers.

Ukraine is in a stalemate. The situation came to the brink where one side has to destroy the other to survive. Maybe it is time for the “old” and “new” Europeans to use high professionalism and wisdom of their diplomacy for the benefit of the “latecomer” Europeans. Negotiations can begin with issues that lend themselves to a quick resolution: an independent investigation into the events of the night of November 30 with mandatory punishment of the guilty, end to the persecutions of all who have already suffered repression for participating in the protests, and broader negotiations of the parties to the conflict, mediated by the EU and ending in signing of the Association Agreement.

The radical scenario seems to be the only one on offer now. The government has committed enough follies, to say the least. No doubt, it is the government side that ought to make the first step to reconciliation. However, while calling for a non-political solution to the crisis, one should remember that the one who starts the terror often drowns in the blood. Maximilian Robespierre, the face of the French Revolution, could hardly suspect that only four years later, he would become a victim of the terror machine which he initially advocated. Years later, historians would write that France would have reached its democratic goals just as well without bloodshed. The French Revolution has become a symbol around the world. The Ukrainian protest in Independence Square is becoming a symbol of modern Europe. Depending on decisions that we (every ordinary Ukrainian, Ukrainian politicians of all colors, the US and EU officials) will make in the coming days, the protest will enter history as a lost opportunity or a key milestone. My decision is, of course, to support the protest, and I will go to the square as soon as I have finished writing this piece.

By Serhii SOLODKY, deputy director of the Institute of World Politics
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