Monday, December 06, 2004

Ukraine crisis - EU implications

A well-considered and interesting article on the impact the Ukrainian election crisis has had on the EU:

"while the western establishment failed quickly to grasp the import of the Kiev events, the rapid engagement of Polish politicians in the unfolding Ukrainian events allowed Poland again to show that it is at the heart, not the periphery, of the enlarged European Union.

"The Ukrainian events catapulted Poland into a crucial position of cajoling, then leading, the EU’s involvement in the post–election crisis. The resistance of Polish officials and MEPs to the traditional Franco–German preference for “stability” over “chaos” was crucial in preventing Viktor Yushchenko from being sacrificed on the altar of good relations with Vladimir Putin and non–interference with Russian imperial interests. As over Iraq, Paris and Berlin have learned that they no longer monopolise or dictate the “European” position; Poland and other escapees from the Soviet empire possess historical experience that allows them both to recognise a time of historic opportunity and to find appropriate responses."


Has this been the first taste of just how much Europe has been altered by the expansion of the Union seven months ago? So far everyone's been concentrating on the constitution, the possibility of Turkey joining, and all that chaos over the new Commission. The new member states and their impact has been almost entirely ignored. Perhaps we should have been paying a bit more attention to these guys.

Update: Via Perfect.co.uk, more Ukraine implications - this time for trans-Atlantic relations:

"the crisis in Ukraine shows what an enormous and vital role Europe can play, and is playing, in shaping the politics and economies of nations and peoples along its ever-expanding border. This is no small matter. On the contrary, it is a task of monumental strategic importance for the United States as well as for Europeans. By accident of history and geography, the European paradise is surrounded on three sides by an unruly tangle of potentially catastrophic problems, from North Africa to Turkey and the Balkans to the increasingly contested borders of the former Soviet Union. This is an arc of crisis if ever there was one, and especially now with Putin's play for a restoration of the old Russian empire. In confronting these dangers, Europe brings a unique kind of power, not coercive military power but the power of attraction. The European Union has become a gigantic political and economic magnet whose greatest strength is the attractive pull it exerts on its neighbors. Europe's foreign policy today is enlargement; its most potent foreign policy tool is what the E.U.'s Robert Cooper calls 'the lure of membership.'"

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