At this critical moment, the European Union is tarrying unacceptably in finding ways to influence the situation in Ukraine
The EU is ready for a public and specific discussion on whether to introduce sanctions against Ukraine, but will not do it until February 10. Why so late? Because this is the date of the next meeting of the EU Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the agenda of which now has had a new item introduced. World War III could have, perhaps, changed the old ossified order, but not the bloody events in Ukraine. Bureaucracy in Europe remains as stagnant as everywhere.
The foreign ministers of the EU member states will meet in Brussels on February 10 to approve a preliminary decision on the Ukrainian question. Until that time, the EU will be conducting extensive consultations at home. Governments at the local level require the consent of their respective Parliaments, after which the Ministries of Foreign Affairs will be able to submit proposals designed to Brussels.
Permanent missions of member countries to the EU headquarters will be working in parallel. Their task is to learn the opinion of influential heavyweights like Germany and France and make adjustments to the ministries' proposals. Different countries will be proposing different sanctions - economic, financial, visa or travel restrictions.
All propositions from the 28 EU Member States then need to be coordinated in a single package, placed on record, and added to the draft of the resolution by ministers in Brussels. So at least two weeks will fly by from the moment when the European Union begins to formulate particular ideas. Is it possible to speed the process up somehow? Hardly. It looks like the EU will be holding up the rear again, wasting precious time just when time is so critical to Ukraine.
But this isn't even the most important problem. Diplomatic circles in Brussels have already leaked information that some countries are either wavering on or not at all ready to adopt common EU sanctions on Ukraine. Denmark is not ready for such drastic actions, Ireland has bitter experience, Bulgaria is under the vigilant eye of the “older brother”... Dublin's legislators do not like to remember how last year the Russian Federation Foreign Office produced furious pressure, threatening to block the adoption procedure of Russian children to Irish families, all this to merely block the Irish proposal to approve a list of EU sanctions similar to the Magnitsky Act.
"A decision in the short term seems to be impossible," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier lifts his hands in dismay. If even Germany is not completely convinced that today we must put everything aside and examine the Ukrainian question around the clock, it is not simply through an attempt to avoid a quarrel with Russia but rather due to lack of visionary thinking and understanding of what will happen to Europe after Viktor Yanukovych wins the elections a second time in 2015 – despite all opposition by Ukrainian voters during elections, but in a situation of massive fraud. Even if the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the EU later adopt a positive decision with numerous exceptions and warnings.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski spoke on the possible consequences of the European refusal to understand at the World Economic Forum in Davos with undisguised pessimism. According to his forecast of future prospects for the European Union, "we might fall into a spiral of events that we will not be able to stop... We are actually under great threat." This pessimistic scenario does not have to be apocalyptic, but it is not to be disregarded lightly.
Experts foresee that Ukraine's most energetic, educated, disappointed and Western-oriented part of the population will begin simply leaving, as they do not see a future in their own country. No matter how they do it – whether applying for political asylum, ready to join the unskilled labor force, or in hope for a better education, it will be more than just thousands or tens of thousands of young people in search of a better life. They won't be leaving for their personal perspectives, but for their children and grandchildren. The Ukrainian state will experience significant losses, its development will slow down, and the vacancies will be filled by foreign immigrants. And it will be a completely different Ukraine.
Ordinary Europeans still find it difficult to understand how it will affect them personally. But new immigrants from Ukraine will not only be filling the positions of office cleaners and plumbers. The generally high educational and cultural level will allow Ukrainians, who will be working for less, to gradually displace local populations from their jobs. In Europe this may disrupt the already fragile balance, increase unemployment rapidly, significantly worsen the crime situation by marginalizing society and advancing globalization.
It's no wonder Switzerland restricted access to labor immigration from the EU last year by introducing quotas for immigrants. The influx of labor from abroad has been rapidly growing. These restrictions apply primarily for Eastern Europe. Bern did not doubt his decision and ignored the sharp criticism of neighbors. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton's cajoling did not take any effect either. Ashton said that the Swiss government adopted measures contrary to the agreement on the free movement of people, because they create differences between groups of Member States... But the pragmatic Bern did not want to sacrifice the well-being of citizens.
Currently, EU member states will not be able to resist the "fifth wave" of Ukrainian emigration (after the four that took place since the 19th century). Despite the lack of a visa-free regime, foreign diplomats will have to issue a multitude of visas to Ukrainian background due to their rhetoric about supporting democratic Ukraine. What will this lead to? A short comparison: the Ukrainian diaspora in the U.S. is now one million people with 320 million of the total population, and the Ukrainian nationals are skillfully exercising their influence on the State Department and Congress through the congressmen they have elected. One can only speculate what changes Germany must expect with its 82 million population when at least half a million Ukrainians move in.
Turkish immigrants, who are now more than two million strong in Germany, are the archetypal example. In areas where the Turks a present in large numbers, they do not particularly bother learning German, while enjoying considerable influence in the country through their politicians to preserve social security. We see this in the Chinatown of Bangkok, where there is a steady alienation between Thais and migrants from China. It would be frivolous to think that our youth will be an exception and won't take up a Ukraine-phobic stance. We already had this in the 19th century when America imported destitute strike-breakers from Galicia and when the local population, actually holding strikes, hated them for it.
Stefan Füle, the Curator of the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, arrived to Kyiv on January 24. Next week, the PACE session in Strasbourg will once again discuss the situation in Ukraine . In late January, the Ukrainian question will be the primary concern of the traditional Munich Security Conference. Simultaneously, MEPs call on leaders to increase psychological pressure on the administration of President Yanukovych "on the phone, on Twitter, on weekdays, on Sundays, on vacation..."
Hard to believe, but all that pressure on February 10 will once again come out to attempts at persuasion for the warring parties, last warnings, proposals, promises, threats... Currently, the EU has no other arguments, while its bureaucratic mechanism is slowly moving. Not to mention that without European sanctions, American sanctions are by and large meaningless.
During these critical days, the time difference between Ukraine and Europe is not a mere two hours. Time in Kyiv is running out much faster than in Brussels. And if the EU fails to mobilize in the near future, this temporal gap will deepen even more. The problem on the table will not be just the murder of a democratic country, but the EU's own suicide.
The Ukrainian Week talked with a representative of the Swiss humanitarian organization Geneva Call on the contemporary conflicts, the features of the search for justice and the application of international humanitarian law in an armed conflict