Стаття Посла України для "Kyiv Post".
Russia’s unrepented return to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) showed one thing: Ukraine is in love with a Europe that doesn’t exist anymore. When Ukraine pursues European integration,: it has the mental picture of the late 1990s and early 2000s – the time when the idea of the EU enlargement conquered the hearts and souls of Europeans. Well, this idea got dissolved in a sea of new considerations, prejudices and – most importantly – fears.
It’s a new EU and a new Europe. The one that isn’t sure what comes next. The one that doesn’t want to be a standard-bearer of the good ideas for the outside world. It wants the good ideas for itself. The outside world can decide on itself what it wants. And yes, for many of these Europeans, Ukraine’s freedom is about as much a nuisance as for Russia. Their world ends, more or less, with Poland.
Ukraine stands between the world of freedom and the world of unfreedom that want to shake hands, be friends and – most importantly – trade with each other, gain profits. We Ukrainians can’t change that. It’s a matter of Europe’s conscience, not ours. The matter of our conscience is to become a better nation.
On the other hand, the good remains good, even when its spirit weakens. European idea is the only way ahead for Ukraine. Not because it’s the alternative to the evil, incorporated by Putin. And not because it brings prosperity. European idea – the idea of personal freedom and respect to every human being – is firmly grown on the active faction of Ukrainian society, our best and brightest. Ukraine isn’t yet successful in freedom – but in unfreedom it can’t function at all (as testified by two revolutions within one decade). In the last years, thousands of Ukrainians paid the ultimate price for Ukraine being free – and we won’t back off no matter what they decide at the PACE.
What remains is the small matter of Ukraine becoming a functioning state based on the values for which so many Ukrainians shed their blood. European integration isn’t an integration into prosperity. It’s integration into a set of values that bring prosperity. I.e. rule of law, freedom of expression, mutual responsibility between a citizen and the state, tolerance, respect to other peoples and nations. How many Ukrainians can say honestly: yes, these are my values? That’s the question Ukraine needs to ask itself, preferably on a daily basis.
And another thing highlighted by the “Strasbourg deal”. They don’t trust us. They don’t see us as their own. Let’s be honest: Ukraine brought it upon itself. First, Ukraine did so much to undermine her own credibility. Second, Ukrainians often don’t trust themselves either. Third, Ukraine might be indeed a historical species of its own, a different kind of free Europe. Whereas in Eastern Europe personal freedom was cultivated since centuries, Ukraine’s freedom grew spontaneously, as grass grows through the asphalt. This might be, potentially the most valid argument for Europe to hold on to Ukraine.
Yes, Ukraine is different and this might be to Europe’s advantage. We didn’t imitate freedom – we reinvented it on our own and defend it as well as we can, despite all odds. And despite all Ukraine’s vices, she deserves the support of those who hold freedom dearly. Yes, PACE has betrayed us. Yes, it’s painful. But It’s not the end.