Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Euromaidan, where are you going?

It is difficult and probably impossible to make an accurate assesment of five days of Euromaidan from abroad. Still, as feeling deeply engaged and involved with Ukraine, I can't stop thinking about the question: Euromaidan, where are you going? It looks a bit premature. Only five days! On the other hand, following Facebook, Twitter and livestream, discussing in 114 bit sentences, I can't imagine that all those courageous Ukrainians at Euromaidan aren't asking themselves this same question: Euromaidan, where are you going? So let me share some thoughts about what Euromaidan isn't and what its future can be.

First, Euromaidan is no Orange Revolution 2.0 and it shouldn't be. What it shares with the Orange Revolution is its cry for a decent, democratic politics. It's a cry for selfrespect, to determine your own future. But it lacks one vital aspect. That is the call for 'the good king'. The strong leader (m/v) who will solve the problems of all Ukrainian families - East and West. Euromaidan is made by everyone, but especially by young people between 18 and 40. The first real post-generation. Post-communist, post-Sowjet, post-Stalinist, post-totalitairian, and, yes, post-modern. It's the first deeply egalitarian generation in Ukraine, who deeply resent and distrust the reflex for the 'good king'.

Second, Euromaidan is no revolution and it shouldn't be. Maybe no one realy thinks that it is a revolution, but this revolutionary sentiment is a strong reflex in post-totalitairian countries. Understandable, but one such radical turnaround a century ago - it's gonna be a big party in three years in the Kremlin - is enough. Euromaidan is not against something, but for something. It is adding something that is already slumbering in Ukrainian daily lifes. The wish to be a part of the European Union, for free trade, civil rights, the right to travel, a decent state and so on. Ukraine = Europe is a beautiful an sussinct slogan who puts this very accurately in three words.

Third, and to put it bluntly: Euromaidan isn't even about a regime change and it shouldn't be. This may sound as an offence. Isn't it Yanukovych who rufeses to sign the Association Agreement with the EU? Yes, off course! But it is a deeply flawed, and dishonest answer to a real problem: the blackmail of the Russian Bear. I'm quite sure that the visit to Putin wasn't a meeting between friends. So the real bad guy is in the Kremlin. It's vital to stress this point, because the option EU should be open for every Ukrainian, regardless of their political preferences. If you frame it as a struggle between opposition and government you create a double bind for every Ukrainian, East and West, who supports the government, but still wants Europe. And I'm pretty sure that there are lot of them. That's the second reason that I like the slogan Ukraine = Europe.

Fourth, Euromaidan isn't a win-loose game, and it shouldn't be. Off course, the stakes are high, and the Association Agreement should be signed in Vilnius on November 29. And it is stil possible that this will happen. Maybe. Maybe not. I sense that Euromaidan has already won simply because it is there. Euromaidan is a political program, and maybe the backbone of a new political party or better, political grass roots movement, supported by social media, low budget and with simple but convincing political demands: a decent state, a decent economy, a decent civil society. Euromaidan has to resist the urge of seizing power, and to learn to use its power selfconsiously to support those political parties who they trust will execute this 'simple and convincing political demands'.

Fifth, Euromaidan can't count on EU blindly, and it shouldn't. The EU has taken a long time to recognize the importance of Ukraine. Someone said 'Yanukovyck visited Putin, but when did Barosso or Van Rompuy visit our president?' And he was't totally wrong. The EU owes something to the Ukrainians. Euromaidan should negotiate with the EU that there will be an open invitation to sign the Association Agreement as soon as political circumstances - probably after the next elections - makes this possible. That can be done in a month. Ukraine = Europa would be the slogan for the next elections, that Euromaidan supported parties will win with their eyes closed. Just gidding.

So where is Euromaidan going? It's committed to egalitairian, democratic political structures. It is constituting Ukraine as an European nation, supported by all Ukrainians, regardless of their political preferences. It is constructing itself as a new and young political grass roots movement for a decent state, civil society and economy. It is demanding the right of Ukraine to take its legitimate place in the European family wheneven the time is ready. The society is.

Someone tweeted from Euromaidan: "I can't even describe how proud this makes me." And she is right. Euromaidan has proven that 'the times, they are changing'. There is a real chance that Euromaidan won't suffer the fate and the blame of the Orange Revolution. The Orange Revolution was the first lesson. Euromaidan is the second, and with the intelligence of the Ukrainians it would be a bloody shame if the second time you won't do a better job.

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