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http://www.signandsight.com/features/1708.html

11/06/2008
Why Ukraine has no place in the EU

Ukraine likes to conjure up the magic word "Galicia" to create an
identity of European belonging. Richard Wagner picks apart this
myth-cum-trademark in an EU bid he believes is misplaced.

REPLY:
> Why Mr. Wagner's arguments should have no place in EU debates.

Those who argue against the membership of one country or another in
the EU should at least do so on rational grounds, without bad history
and bad logic.
First, Mr Wagner does not seem to know that the bulk of present-day
Ukrainian lands were under DIRECT Russian political rule only since
the 1780s. That makes for a little more than 200 years. Does that
suffice for a claim it has "traditionally answered to Moscow?" I think
not. Mr. Wagner also dates a "fusion" with Russia back to Kievan Rus.
Since neither Ukraine nor Russia existed in the 10th century, and
since the for the inhabitants of the Kievan region at the time, the
inhabitants of their north-eastern colonial fringe were about as far
away as anybody could be from them, it is difficult to imagine what
Mr. Wagner understands by "fusion."
Second, Mr Wagner also seems to be ignorant of the fact that the
Muscovite-Russian variant of Byzantine-Orthodoxy has little in  common
with any other, particularly its caesero-papism, which influenced
Ukrainian lands only for the years when they belonged to the empire.
Third, yes, due to planned imperial government  policies streaching
back to the 18th century, and continued by the Soviet regime from the
1930s, there is a heavy proportion of Russian-speakers in the country
today. But is Mr Wagner implying that language-use determines
political loyalties. If he is, would he perhaps advocate the return of
Ireland to England, or Brazil to Portugal? It is also true Ukraine
remains for the most part a Russian economic colony, but why does he
think "Orange revolutionaries" will not change this once they do get
hold of the "political reigns" or, if European and US  and Japanese
corporations decide they want Ukrainian labour and resources?  Need he
be reminded of how many activists it took to separate the American
colonies from Britain? Mr. Wagner should also take note that Mr Putin
has seen to it that there are no oligarchic interests in Russia, whose
political climate is quite unlike Ukraine's to say the least. He need
only have asked any Russian political refugee living in Ukraine and
enjoying Ukrainian liberties. Finally, and perhaps most important does
Mr Wagner think that the past determines the future? I was of the
opinion the past merely shapes it.

Mr. Wagner talks of imperial desires. Yes, the world is a wicked
place, but if two interests coincide does the moral worth of one
negate the other?  How would Mr Wager judge, for example the Hitler
Stalin pact? Mr. Wagner  goes on to mention the vexed matter of
collaboration with the Nazi's, claiming that all, rather than only
some, western Ukrainians were involved. If this is to implicitly
disqualify Ukrainians from EU membership and somehow isolate them from
his "occidental idea," he should perhaps take into account that Nazism
was a European phenomenon, just like the inquisition,  and that lots
of western Europeans thought it a good thing, just like many supported
the inquistion. Who has the right to cast the first stone?

I shall leave specialists on Galicia to point-out to Mr. Wagner  the
relevance of what he calls  "the Galician myth-cum-trademark" for
Kiev's EU bid,"  and all his erroneous claims about that region. I
will note only one.  Habsburg rulers considered  western Ukrainians
their most loyal subjects, and national leaders in the early 20th
century there were not separatists. Precisely because they, unlike
Pilsudksi and the Poles, did not change horses in time and abandon
Vienna, the Entente in 1918 and 1919 supported Poland and not the West
Ukrainian Peoples Republic.



>--
Stephen Velychenko
CERES Associate;
Research Fellow,Chair of Ukrainian Studies;
Munk Center
University of Toronto
Devonshire Place
Toronto M5S 3K7


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