PM Azarov of Ukraine fears a Coup: President Yanukovych and Pan-European integration

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PM Azarov of Ukraine fears a Coup: President Yanukovych and Pan-European integration

Ramazan Khalidov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Events in Ukraine are unfolding quickly based on the intensification of the mass demonstrations breaking out in the capital Kiev. Indeed, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov is making it clear that he believes that a coup is being planned. Discontent towards the current leaders of the Ukraine reached breaking point after this nation failed to sign a deal with the European Union (EU) which would have paved the way for stronger ties. Therefore, demonstrators are now intent on forcing their viewpoints on the political elites of this nation whereby they are demanding politicians who will lead Ukraine towards closer EU integration.

It must be stated that demonstrators in the Ukraine may be voicing their irritation towards the political leaders of the Ukraine and airing anti-Russian Federation views aimed at the Kremlin. However, it is ironic that the EU is blighted by growing debt, enormous youth unemployment in several nations, mass immigration, welfare cutbacks and other negative factors. Somehow, the current crisis in Greece, Spain, Portugal – and other nations – appears to have bypassed their notion of the EU. Similarly, in many EU nations the rights of workers have been trampled on and issues related to low pay, temporary work and other areas are all genuine concerns.

However, rationality and mass demonstrations doesn’t naturally go hand-in-hand therefore some individuals are pointing the finger towards powerful forces being involved in the current crisis in the Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation said “This internal political process is an attempt by the opposition to destabilize the existing legitimate rule in the country.”

Putin is also implying that political opponents of the current leaders of the Ukraine are manipulating the EU issue in order to destabilize the political process. This relates to the democratic mandate which ushered in President Yanukovych after he won the 2010 presidential election. Therefore, if the opponents of Yanukovych strongly disagree with his recent decision but they support democracy to the hilt; then surely they should wait until the next election because if his decision is so unpopular then he will naturally lose power.

In this sense, it is clear that Putin is raising a very important point. Indeed, just like in Thailand, it appears that demonstrators and powerful political forces believe that they are above the democratic political process. After all,  in Thailand and the Ukraine the current political leaders were elected democratically and unless both nations infringe on the rights of people in relation to human rights (neither have done) – then clearly both opposition forces in these two countries are behaving in a way which threatens democracy. Of course, demonstrating is a way of showing mass discontent and it is a positive vehicle when used correctly. However, when demonstrators threaten to bring down individuals who have been elected through the ballot box and whereby political leaders are not threatening to curtail human rights – then these demonstrations threaten the legitimacy of democracy.

Azarov commented to Western ambassadors that “We know that a plan is being prepared to seize the parliament….This has all the signs of a coup…We are very patient, but we want our partners not to feel that everything is permitted.”

The Director of American Institute in Ukraine (AIU), Anthony T. Salvia, focuses heavily on the economic and political reality of modern day Ukraine. Salvia says Yanukovych …is responding to the wishes of regional industrialists, the federation of trade unions, transit workers, agricultural interests, and other parts of his core base that would have been hurt by the European deal. There is political wisdom in never turning your back on your core constituents merely to win over others who never liked you in the first place. That almost never works.”

Salvia also points out that Yanukovych …is holding the cards: in keeping the door open to both Europe and Russia, he is better placed to work out a reasonable economic and fiscal deal for Ukraine, in which case Russia’s $500 billion in foreign exchange reserves, current account and budgetary surpluses and debt-to-GDP ratio of 9% (compared to Europe’s 91%) are not to be sneezed at. And in pursuing a tripartite Ukraine-Europe-Russia accord, he would be striking a blow for the multi-vector foreign policy he proposed in 2010 and which the Ukrainian people voted for. Pan-European integration — with Ukraine the major beneficiary – is the only strategic choice that makes sense for the nation.”

Spiegel Online reports “In the end, the Russian president seems to have promised his Ukrainian counterpart several billion euros in the form of subsidies, debt forgiveness and duty-free imports. The EU, for its part, had offered Ukraine loans worth €610 million ($827 million), which it had increased at the last moment, along with the vague prospect of a €1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yanukovych chose Putin’s billions instead.”

It is easy for Western media agencies to overemphasize the negatives of Yanukovych but given the complexities and the geopolitical reality of the Ukraine then clearly the current leader of this nation faces many serious issues. Similarly, while demonstrators appear to be intent on the EU angle they also seem aloof to the reality that many EU member states are blighted by high unemployment, mounting debt, mass immigration, loss of sovereignty based on EU laws – and other negative areas. In truth, no option is easy if the main choices are two competing forces. Therefore, Yanukovych needs to remember his core voters while taking the middle ground if possible between the EU and the Russian Federation.

Yanukovych therefore appears to be hoping for serious talks to take place between the EU, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine about this complex issue. He stated “I would like to emphasize that there is no other option than to build a society of European standards in Ukraine. My policy has always been and will remain consistent in this context.”

Photo image Abode of Chaos

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