26 March, 2013 15:37 ▪
Bruce Rickerson: poisonous political atmosphere threatens Ukraine's domestic peace and international standing
“As with much else in Ukraine, where the truth lies (in Yulia Tymoshenko`s case – Ed.) is anyone's guess. But there's no avoiding the fact that the divisions over Tymoshenko tap into the profound fault lines that have threatened Ukraine's stability ever since it became an independent country in 1991,” writes Rickerson. “Those divisions, and the poisonous political atmosphere that has characterized independent Ukraine, constitute a threat to Ukraine's domestic peace and international standing far more significant than Tymoshenko's personal guilt or innocence,” he adds.
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Rickerson claims that at this point, “Ukraine can take two paths with respect to Tymoshenko. First, as things stand now, the relentless zero-sum-game continues, in which eventually either she or her critics (take your pick) stand forth as entirely innocent or entirely corrupt. Either way, the result is likely to pour gasoline on Ukraine's already smoldering embers, with negative consequences for the whole country. Alternatively, both Tymoshenko's and the government's supporters can start to look for a way out of the corner they have painted themselves into. This would require something that has been almost entirely lacking in Ukraine's politics to date: a willingness to compromise and to admit that "we" are not entirely right, and "you" aren't entirely wrong”.
“As we see in the United States, such comprise isn't easy even in what is considered a mature democracy. It is even more difficult in a democracy as young as Ukraine's and where the relevant actors have invested so much political capital in demonizing their opponents.
However difficult it might be for Ukrainians to achieve such a compromise and produce a "win-win" solution based on mutual respect, doing so can only be of benefit to Ukraine's stability and international standing. By the same token, U.S. and other foreign observers would do well to look beyond today's contentious politicians to Ukraine's enduring potential as a valued and reliable partner,” underlines Rickerson.
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