BRAMA, Sep 8, 2004, 11:00 am ET|
General Kostyantyn Morozov explains why post-independence Ukraine failed to achieve predicted success
By Christine Demkowych
© The Washington Group
General Kostyantyn Morozov
Why has Ukraine not achieved the level of success predicted by the global community shortly after it gained independence in 1991?
Kostyantyn Morozov, Ukraine's first defense minister, said he believes Ukraine squandered the many opportunities it was granted over the years because it never clearly defined its priorities and the type of state it should build.
The circumstances in which Ukraine finds itself today can be traced back to its first 10 years of statehood. During that period Ukraine was caught in the middle of a balancing act between Europe and Russia. Although Ukraine showed interest in integrating with Europe and its system of democracy, it continued maintaining ties with Russia, whose goal was to preserve its influence over the former Soviet republics.
Ukraine's intention to integrate into the European Union (EU) prompted the development of legal structures that were incorporated into the international political process. It removed all nuclear weapons from its territory and signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. A democratic constitution was adopted and national minorities and religious groups were provided with full rights and liberties. Embassies were established in over 150 countries and Ukraine accepted the permanence and inviolability of all interstate borders.
But the West's lack of applause for the progress Ukraine was making during its first years of independence caused great disappointment, influencing many politicians in Ukraine to believe that its entry into the EU was not expected, nor welcomed. Morozov contends that Russia took advantage of the dispirited attitude toward the EU to promote its own policy interests in Ukraine.
Ukraine's indecision over which economic system it should integrate with-Europe or Russia-caused a lack of clarity in its foreign policy, rendering it virtually ineffective. Divergent policy measures-- such as partial cooperation with NATO and the EU, versus the signing of the Single Economic Space agreement (with Russia, Belorus and Kazakhstan)-- negated Ukraine's efforts in either direction.
Morozov argues that organizations like the European Union and NATO must adjust their policy guidelines to reflect the changing needs of member states. The fall of the USSR no longer defines NATO priorities, he said, therefore the needs of interstate relations are no longer unified. The needs of individual states must be addressed to reflect new global conditions.
As a non-bloc country, Ukraine has faced numerous security challenges, primarily resulting from the foreign military presence on its territory. The Russian Black Sea Fleet, based in Crimea, is not only dangerous from a military, strategic perspective, but has also caused territorial concerns.
Morozov said he fears the possibility of serious armed conflict resulting from the Russian Black Sea Fleet's presence. He said that while he understands that NATO would not want to engage in such a possible conflict, the Russian Fleet has become a serious barrier to Ukraine's involvement with NATO.
Russia's financial and security interests are increasingly pushing Ukraine toward Eurasia. Russia's financial investments in Ukraine continue to increase every year, causing another barrier for Ukraine's relationship with the West. The terrorist threat in Russia has spurred a proposal to develop a joint anti-terrorist center, which would increase Russia's role in Ukrainian security policy and make Ukraine hostage to Russia's North Caucasus policy, namely the war in Chechnya.
Morozov explained that interest in European integration waned when Ukraine's top leaders discovered that becoming a part of Europe required the adoption of business practices reflecting democratic norms and moral codes of conduct. This revelation, he said, ultimately led to the creation of the Single Economic Space Agreement.
Morozov said the question of integration was "reduced to a series of opportunistic shifts and tactical moves in various directions to meet the often personal needs of the moment."
The concept of integrating with the West has received quite a bit of opposition from Ukraine's various political parties. Ukraine's Communist Party, for example, advocates total opposition to the West, with complete support for Russia. The Socialist Party sees the value of political and economic ties with the West, but does not recognize the benefit of such ties from a military perspective.
The national democratic or right party, supported by Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, supports European integration, but has not been an effective voice for promoting this option, Morozov said, adding that even this group is divided when it comes to NATO and the merits of a Trans-Atlantic versus purely European course.
Morozov said the democratic or right party has been "timid in fighting anti-Western propaganda, and made too feeble an effort to defeat the Single Economic Space project in Parliament….they have done too little to educate the public in the relevance of European integration to the betterment of their own lives.
"In fact, preoccupied as many of them are with tactical issues of the upcoming presidential election, the opposition has seemingly lost the initiative in defining Ukraine's strategic geo-political future," Morozov said.
In conclusion, Morozov said that in the 21st century Ukraine's future can be safeguarded not in isolation, but in integration. "This integration must be into those structures that can best insure the state's security and the people's well-being, those who espouse values that maximize freedom through democracy. For me, this means integration with Europe," he said.
Morozov said the movement toward the EU cannot be made without membership in the NATO alliance. "The acceptance of the benefits of EU membership and the values that it represents-democracy, market economy, civil society and civil rights-must be accompanied by a readiness to defend them," he said. "Ukraine must understand that the European Union and NATO integration processes are not separate from each other."