BRAMA, Feb 18, 2005, 2:00 pm ET|
'A Sense of Orange in the Air!'
By Natalie Gawdiak
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, John F. Tefft, and two former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine, Ambassador William Green Miller and Ambassador Steven Pifer, presented their views in an afternoon program on February 10, entitled "The Path to a Free and Democratic Ukraine" at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C Blair Ruble, Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, introduced the event, which was relayed as a live webcast. About 80 guests attended the presentations followed by a Q&A session.
Mr. Tefft observed that the United States had spent some $18 million on the run-up to the presidential election in Ukraine, not in support of any specific candidate as charged by Jonathan Steele writing in The Guardian, but in support of the process needed for a democratic election. He noted that the statement by former Secretary Colin Powell flatly rejecting the outcome of the earlier, fraudulent election of Viktor Yanukovich was a critical statement that "signaled to Kuchma that the jig was up," that the United States was not going to go along with the corrupt business-as-usual mentality of the past. Mr. Tefft said that the State Department "urged Russia at all levels to cooperate" in election monitoring and helping to assure that the outcome of the situation in Ukraine was fair.
For the future, Mr. Tefft noted that a brief meeting will take place between the President Yushchenko and President Bush at the NATO summit on February 22nd in Brussels, but that a high level visit for President Yushchenko to travel to the U.S. to meet with President Bush is being envisioned for this coming spring.
Among the many areas on which our two countries will be focusing, disarmament is still an incomplete task in Ukraine, especially regarding small arms caches and the Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, the so-called "Man-PADS," which Mr. Tefft calculated would take some 12 years to accomplish. The Chornobyl situation needs obvious continued attention. The United States has spent "tens of thousands" of dollars on this effort so far. The Deputy Secretary expressed the hope that the Supplemental Budget Request coming up in Congress" may have something for Ukraine in it."
International concerns still to be addressed include U.S. congressional acceptance of the fact that Ukraine has met all the requirements to graduate from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Another area is accession to the World Trade Organization. "We want to move ahead on this," Mr. Tefft averred, but Ukraine must implement better protection for intellectual property, he noted. NATO membership for Ukraine is the other major goal on the horizon and the United States is prepared to support Ukraine's accession to that body. United States also will be sending a large number of high level delegations to Ukraine beginning with a visit headed by Senator Richard Lugar. On February 22, at the NATO summit, President Yushchenko will meet with various other leaders and discuss military reform, which includes many specific issues that need to be resolved. In 1993, Ukraine had an army of 1 million; troop strength is now at 350,000, but the country's goal is a reduction to 100,000, which would be sufficient for defensive purposes. Regarding Iraq, President Yuschenko has set the removal of Ukraine's 1,600 troops as a "goal," but no specific date has been set.
In regard to European Union membership, conditions and preparations for Ukraine's entry are described in the 27 chapters of the EU's Action Plan; if Ukraine could accomplish these things, which include some 100 reforms, it would be certainly a good thing, Mr. Tefft concluded.
Ambassador Steven Pifer began by saying that "to say expectations are high is an understatement!" He then went on to outline and elaborate on six challenges facing Ukraine, namely: on the domestic front 1) how to carry out those crucial 100 reforms, s; 2) how to maintain a political coalition ("Our Ukraine" has only 100 seats in the Rada, so compromise will most certainly be needed); 3) how to deal with and win over the Yanukovich voters in the East; 4) to deal fairly with privatizations and establish uniformrules and laws for al businesses. Foreign policy challenges facing Ukraine are 1) to open the door to Europe; and 2) relations with Russia. The latter is linked to such questions as how far and how fast Ukraine should proceed with European Union membership; what to do about Russia's Single Economic Space, and how to balance Ukraine's relations with NATO vis-a-vis Russia. Mr. Pifer noted that at the moment there is no consensus in Ukraine about NATO membership.
On a more upbeat note, Ambassador William Miller stated that "there is a definite sense of orange in the air....The sounds of the Liturgy from the Maidan are still ringing in my ears!" Mr. Miller declared that there is nothing short of a "new moral order" in Ukraine now, even though Ukraine's leader came from the same background as so many others-Young Pioneers, Comsomol, the standard Soviet education. He is different, Mr. Miller declared. "He is a martyr who was nearly killed several times...Some call him the 'Man of Sorrows.'"
The challenges President Yushchenko faces begin with the pledges made on the Maidan, Ambassador Miller observed. These are to root out corruption, to vigorously enforce the rule of law, to police the government agencies, and to help the aged, the needy and the sick. Additionally, the availability and the quality of education must be increased as must access to the possibilities for small farm ownership. These things have been "pledged," Mr. Miller emphasized, and he hopes that the new leadership will be able to honor these pledges. He called them the "Oath of the Maidan," and said that the new order has brought on a new nation with a new dignity.
Ambassador Miller was quite optimistic about the signs that the new regime has created thus far. He went down the list of new appointees, commenting on the backgrounds and talents, as well as the rationales, for the various appointments made. He observed that President Yushchenko has made it very clear about the direction in which he wants to lead Ukraine. "Look where he's been already," Mr. Miller said: "Moscow, Strasbourg, Auschwitz, and Davos."
While noting that the Orange Revolution was a sheerly Ukrainian phenomenon ("The help we gave over a dozen years did not amount to a piddle, it was the Ukrainians who did it themselves"), Ambassador Miller concluded that the U.S. could help now in many ways, such as supporting farm lease programs, generous, long-term agri-bank systems, and public seed money.
In response to a question from a Ukrainian in the audience, all the speakers admitted that no one had believed that the Orange Revolution was possible. Obviously, neither did President Kuchma and Yanukovich, it was gleefully noted as the program ended.
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