BRAMA, Dec 3, 2004, 12:00 pm ET|
An Opportunity for Europe
By Timothy Snyder
More than Yugoslavia in the last decade, more than Turkey in the decade
to come, Ukraine today is the test for Europe. The European Union and
its member states must take a clear stand for a peaceful resolution of
this conflict that endorses the will of the Ukrainian people.
It is alarming for Europe that Moscow apparently believes it can
intervene in Ukrainian politics, and in effect choose the president of
Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin intervened openly in the election
campaign, twice visiting Ukraine to back his candidate. Putin has in
effect told the world that only elections won by his candidate would be
democratic. But democracy is not about the preferences of outside
leaders, it is about a process. This process was abused in Ukraine, in
all likelihood with Russian funding, and certainly with the help of
Russia is about to make a big mistake. Such interference in Ukrainian
affairs will require, sooner or later, the use of military force.
Russia cannot control a country of fifty million people, the vast
majority of whom care of about their own independence, without
destroying itself. Russian soldiers in a foreign country shooting
foreign civilians would be a catastrophe for all concerned, especially
Rather than supporting his man come what may, President Putin should
join the call for peaceful discussions and negotiations. He still has
time to take a position in line with this international consensus. The
European Union and its member states must insist on precisely this.
Those who care about the future of Russia should be the first to argue
for a Ukrainian solution that respects the will of Ukrainians.
The European Union is a center of democracy in the world. If Europe
wishes to be a power, it must have some influence upon its neighbors,
especially its immediate European neighbors. It must translate its
enormous economic power and cultural appeal into foreign policy. If not
To secure democracy in Ukraine is in the interest of the European Union,
because democratic neighbors are peaceful and prosperous neighbors. It
is also a test for a Europe that wishes to play a role in the world.
Yet above all democracy is also a goal which Europe must pursue if it is
to be true to itself.
Associate Professor, East European history, Yale University
Visiting Fellow, Institut fьr die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna
English translation of "Eine Chance fьr Europe: Die EU ist in der
Ukraine als Schutzmacht der Demokratie gefordert," Der Standard, Vienna,
26 November 2004, p. 35.