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World Citizens Welcome Serious Considerations of Federalist Government Structures for Ukraine, but Warn Against Simplified Concepts

In Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Europe, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace on April 16, 2014 at 2:22 PM


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The Association of World Citizens (AWC), in an April 14, 2014 message to the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), welcomed the serious consideration of federalist government structures for Ukraine being proposed both by the current President of Ukraine in an April 13 statement and by the authorities of the Russian Federation.

As Professor René Wadlow, President of the AWC, pointed out in the message, such proposals can have a positive impact to lessen the growing tensions both within Ukraine and among the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the European Union. The President recalled that World Citizens have always stressed that government structures should be as close as possible to the people so that their views can have a direct impact on government decisions. Federalist forms of government can facilitate the balance between the need for larger government units for policy making and units close to local communities so that those impacted are able to influence policy.

The current tensions, first within the Ukraine, followed by the change of status of Crimea and its integration into the Russian Federation, the massing of Russian troops on the Ukraine frontier with Russia, and the violent demonstrations within parts of Ukraine have created the most serious European tensions since the conflicts related to the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.

Efforts of both governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) must be undertaken to lessen tensions and to create opportunities for creative dialogue. Proposals for new governmental forms within Ukraine offer a possibility for such creative dialogue.

The current tensions in Ukraine highlight two crucial political and economic orientations possible for Ukraine. On one side, there is a growing but not clearly defined revival of an economic and strategic zone with the Russian Federation as the main motor. This possible “Eurasian Customs Union” could include Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and perhaps Moldova and Ukraine. Such a Eurasian association would probably develop into more than a common market. However, the full structure and tasks of such a Eurasian association have not been fully discussed publicly.

On the other side is the European Union (EU) with which Ukraine has already some treaty agreements. The refusal by the then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, to sign a more detailed plan of action with the EU was the reason or a pretext for the start of the massive demonstrations in Kiev.

The current situation in Ukraine does not lead itself to calm considerations of basic orientations or for compromises. Both the EU and Russian diplomacy will weigh in the Ukraine decisions, and the USA and Chinese diplomacy is not likely to be absent.

World Citizens who have a long history of reflection on federalist approaches, warn against simplified concepts in the Ukraine discussions. Federalism is not a first-step to the disintegration of the Ukraine. But it is not a “magic solution” either. Government structures are closely related to the aims which people wish to achieve. The aims of the Ukrainians are multiple. Dialogue and open discussion is needed so that these aims are seen more clearly and then structures created to facilitate these aims. Those outside Ukraine, both governments and NGOs must facilitate discussions of aims and structures so that common interests may be found and current tensions reduced.

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