Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Ukraine: Europe mumbles, Poland shouts 

Swedish blogger Johan Norberg (via Instapundit) watches Ukraine's Orange Revolution unfold and asks:

"Where are the concerned European politicians who should condemn the fraud, and who could be with these crowds to show their support? And where are the 'human shields'? A lot of young westerners were willing to risk their lives to stop the war on Iraq. Aren't they willing to risk some discomfort to stop one of Europe's biggest countries from slipping back to dictatorship?"
If I recall correctly, Western European political class has done preciously little to help Eastern and Central Europe liberate itself in 1989/2001 (not to mention stop the war in its own Balkan backyard) - so why start now?

Among all the pedestrian and lackluster statements by the EU leaders,
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, ironically himself an ex-communist, is rather more straightforward (link in Polish, my translation):

"During a press conference in Presidential Palace, President [Kwasniewski] announced that he'll be immediately contacting [the outgoing Ukrainian] President Leonid Kuczma. Kwasniewski wants the negotiations [between the two presidential candidates] to take place in the presence of representatives of the Council of Europe and the European Union...

"Kwasniewski is the first of the EU leaders to speak out about the Ukrainian election... Dialogue, yes - violence, no, Kwasniewski repeated twice. And what will you do, Mr President, if Kuczma rejects your initiative? Will Poland still recognize the election result? asked journalists. Kwasniewski refused to answer.

"President Kwasniewski also said that 'right from the start, Poland was of the opinion that these elections are the exam of Ukrainian democracy'... According to the President, Ukraine failed that exam...

"Kwasniewski, recalling Polish's long-standing policy towards Ukraine, said that Polish aim was always to bring Ukraine closer to the EU and NATO. He admitted that this policy had not found any takers [in the West]. He underlined the fact that many Western countries prefer to 'sacrifice relations with one country for the sake of relations with another'."
The last sentence being a dig at the Western policy of appeasing Russia at the expense of all other post-communist states in the region.

Poland's right-wing opposition, which is expected to win the parliamentary election next year, is even more gung-ho:

"Polish parliament looked orange, thanks to members of the Citizens' Platform [the main centre-right opposition party] who distributed orange ribbons; the symbol of Victor Yushchenko [Ukrainian pro-Western presidential candidate]. Inside the chamber some members of parliament waved orange-colored flag and put oranges on the pulpits in front of them...

"Politicians from the Citizens' Platform called on the government not to recognize the election result in the absence of a recount conducted under international supervision...

"Law and Justice [another right-wing opposition party] proposed a resolution condemning electoral fraud in Ukraine. One of the Law and Justice parliamentarians, Ludwik Dorn appealed: 'Poland cannot remain silent at this moment in time.' In the evening [the party's leader] Jaroslaw Kaczynksi sent a congratulatory letter to Yushchenko as the new president of Ukraine."
There is, alas, a lot of bad blood and bad history between the Poles and the Ukrainians over the last hundred years. Supporting the pro-Western, pro-democracy forces is the best way for Poland to build better and stronger relations with those representing the future of her eastern neighbor.


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