Ukraine is like a besieged fortress: war with Russia, spoiled relations with Poland, Romania, Hungary, what to expect from Belarus and Moldova with Pro-Russian leaders – is not clear. This situation does not promise anything good to Ukraine. Who is to blame and what to do in the material LIGA.net.

War ultimatums to Poland

Ukraine’s relations with Poland have begun to deteriorate after the coming to power of the conservative party law and justice, which made a historical subject of foreign policy, focusing on the role of UPA in the Volyn tragedy. In Poland the cause of the current crisis, see the decision of the Ukrainian Institute of national memory to impose a moratorium on the legalization of illegal Polish monuments, and to suspend the issuance of permits for the exhumation of the Polish victims of the military conflict: the Polish-Soviet war, the Second world war, the victims of the Volyn tragedy.

The moratorium was initiated by the Institute in response to the destruction of the Pro-Kremlin Polish nationalists, with the support of local authorities the monument to soldiers of the UPA in the village Groszowice in Poland. The head of the Ukrainian Institute of national memory Vladimir vyatrovich demanded from Poland the legalization of the Ukrainian monuments and to present a vision of restoring what has been destroyed, including the UPA. Later, the Minister of foreign Affairs of Poland Witold Waszczykowski has threatened to inclusion of the management of the Institute to the blacklist with ban on entry to Poland.

17 November at the meeting of the Advisory Council of presidents of Ukraine and Poland, the Ukrainian side has refused the moratorium on the exhumation, and the Polish Ukraine has promised the reconstruction of the seven destroyed in Poland of Ukrainian monuments. But the Polish blacklist still has started to act: entry into Poland banned the associate Vyatrovich, Svyatoslav Sheremet.

Meeting of the Advisory Committee in Krakow, November 17 (photo president.gov.ua)

Such a conflict should be expected. In June 2016 the Polish Institute of national memory was subordinated to the state and headed by a protege of law and justice. It was already clear that there will be no compromise between the Polish historians opposed to the glorification of the UPA and for recognizing Volyn tragedy genocide of poles, and head of the Institute for which the glorification of the UPA – the business of life.

In the end, the dialogue of Polish and Ukrainian historians have failed. To save relations between the two countries, even historical issues now should be resolved by the diplomats, with the involvement of historians or without, but certainly no monopoly of the institutions of naramata. Perhaps now is the time to call the streets in Ukraine names Jerzy Giedroyc and other Polish leaders who build bridges between peoples, to remember not only the conflicts but also the common victory, to withdraw to a new level of economic, defense and border cooperation. The issues of history should not dominate the relations between the two countries.

Moreover, it is important to prevent the formation in Ukraine the image of poles as enemies of the Ukrainians, and in Poland – Ukrainians as enemies of the poles that can be used for electoral purposes by politicians in 2019. In the Ukrainian media now, there are publications about the alleged claims of Warsaw on the revision of the borders and domination in Poland, anti-Ukrainian sentiment. In fact, according to a survey of the analytical center CBOS in 2017 in Poland, sympathy for the Ukrainians showed 36% poles, 32% expressed antipathy and 26% were indifferent. In 1993, Ukrainians sympathized with only 12% of poles, in 2003, 19% and an increase of this amount – the success of the policy of reconciliation of the two countries. In Ukraine according to the survey survey team leader Rating in June 2016 warm or very warm attitude to the poles, 54%, cold 4%. If you imagine that relations between Ukraine and Poland because of the strife around the story will remain in crisis until the departure of IPR from the government, you can imagine how long the poles and the Ukrainians will be set against each other through the media.

Still have not had differences with Warsaw about history in the first place we need to think not about the conflict the past and the future and joint opposition to the Kremlin’s expansion. Further confrontation will be harmful for both sides, but for Ukraine because of the war – to a greater extent. Warsaw spoiled relations with Germany and France, and it is unlikely it can assist in the issues of European integration, but it remains a partner for Ukraine in the promotion of cooperation with NATO, is important for coordinated action against Russian aggression in the region. And it is impossible to agree with the title of the last interview of Viatrovych magazine Country: “the Poles are preparing to rapprochement with Russia.” If indeed that were the case, Poland would not have continued the investigation of the crash of Lech Kaczynski, would not have purchased the Patriot missile system for $7-10 billion, the Polish defence Minister Antony, Macierewicz would not beat the alarm about Russia’s preparations for hot war in Europe.

Language conflict with Hungary and Romania

The tension in relations with Hungary arose in may 2014, when the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said about the need of dual citizenship and autonomy for Hungarians in Transcarpathia. His statements, joint energy projects in Hungary and Russia, the criticism of sanctions against Russia, Putin’s visit to Budapest in the midst of the battles, the Hungarian Prime Minister made one of the most hated foreign politicians in Ukraine.


Viktor Orban (photo – EPA)

Orban tried with Russia to preserve the relationship, and the unity of the EU on the Ukrainian question is not broken. Hungary supported the extension of sanctions against Russia, despite the losses of the Hungarian agriculture, the integrity of Ukraine during voting in the UN, the introduction of a visa-free regime and the Association agreement EU-Ukraine. Despite pressure from Moscow Budapest refused to reverse gas to Ukraine – it has grown to 1 billion cubic meters in 2016. Budapest also has sent humanitarian assistance to victims of war in Donbass, organized recreation, more than two thousand children of immigrants and soldiers of the ATO, provided treatment to more than 70 fighters ATO in the years 2014-2017.

Therefore, the adoption in September of the Ukrainian law on education, the 7th article of which secured the right to study all subjects in the language of national minorities only in elementary school, caused a rage in Budapest. According to the Hungarian Constitution, the government must take care to preserve the rights and identity of foreign Hungarians. In Hungary believe that Ukraine responded with ingratitude for the support that was provided in the EU, the UN and humanitarian lines. “Ukraine has hit Hungary in the back, making amendments to the law on education, which strongly violates the rights of the Hungarian minority,” said the Minister of foreign Affairs of Hungary Peter Siarto.

Furthermore, the reaction of the Hungarian government due to the electoral competition – the main rival of the party of Orban’s FIDESZ is now the far-right Jobbik party. The difference between them is. FIDES from Russia needs markets and cheap gas, political rapprochement voters Orban does not understand: the memory of the suppression of the Hungarian revolution Moscow was strong. Jobbik – the Pro-Kremlin fifth column, known provocations in Transcarpathia. After the adoption of the Ukrainian law, she said the failure of the Ukrainian policy of Orban, former members of the party organized a rally for self-determination of the Hungarians.

In Budapest believe that the government of Ukraine against the Hungarian minority has violated the provision of article 22 of the Constitution of Ukraine on preventing the contraction of existing rights and freedoms, as well as the current Declaration of the Ukrainian SSR and Hungary to ensure the rights of national minorities from 1991. It provides the opportunity to study Ukrainian Hungarians in their native language “at all levels”.

The argument of Budapest is simple: for 26 years the Hungarians of Ukraine could be taught in high school in Hungarian, but now only in elementary school. The argument of the Ukraine is that the law means improving the integration of the Hungarians, increase chances of admission to universities and in the labour market, in Budapest, reject, saying that Ukrainian Hungarians themselves know what is best for them. Don’t care about the Hungarian government and the concern of Ukraine to the issuance of the Hungarian passports Transcarpathian Hungarians – according to the Hungarian authorities in February 2015 Hungarian citizenship under the simplified procedure got 94 thousand of Transcarpathian Hungarians. In Budapest believe that foreign Hungarians must have a link with the homeland, such a move is not directed against neighbors, and in Ukraine, a double, including the Hungarian citizenship have even higher officials.

In September, Hungary announced that it would block the further Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and will seek sanctions against Ukraine. Blocked meeting of the Commission Ukraine-NATO in December, while in Brussels, announced that it did not plan his conduct. Hungary managed to achieve the PACE recommendations for Ukraine to fix the education act in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. At the same time, Budapest is not going to block sanctions against Russia and recently supported a UN resolution on human rights violations in the Crimea.

The conflict with Romania also started with the 7th article of the law on education and stop the step of improving relations caused by the Russian aggression. Romania advocated the strengthening of sanctions against Russia, visa-free regime and the Association agreement of the EU with Ukraine, called for the creation of fleet of the NATO with participation of the Ukrainian Navy in the Black sea, has treated several dozen Ukrainian military.

The two countries have common interests – the de-occupation of Crimea, the militarization which threatens and Romania, the fight against the Russian presence in Transnistria and Russian influence in Moldova. The last one in December 2018 may become a satellite of the Kremlin in case of a victory on elections the party of President Dodon: then Kiev and Bucharest will be a huge problem. Perhaps due to awareness of these risks and of the political struggle, the reaction of Romania calmer Hungarian: pending visit of President Iohannis in Ukraine and the speaker Parubiy in Romania, adopted the Declaration of the Parliament of the violation of the rights of Ukrainian Romanians.

Poland as a mediator

In December their findings on the law on education must submit to the Venice Commission. It is not clear whether the will to compromise Romania, but Orban has said that regardless of the findings of the Commission, Hungary compromises with Ukraine will not go. The Ukrainian government also intentions to modify the law on education is not voiced.

In fact, even if Kiev decides to fix the law, in Budapest hardly will make concessions. Orban has already expressed the claims of the bill Poroshenko on citizenship – it provides for the deprivation of Ukrainian citizenship those who became a citizen of another country with 30 days to think which of the two passports to give up. That is, most of the Transcarpathian Hungarians will have to choose between passports of Hungary or Ukraine. Is Budapest still claim to unfulfilled campaign promise of Poroshenko Transcarpathian Hungarians to return Church property, selected by the Soviet government and the new Ukrainian draft law on languages. And while these claims will not be filmed in Budapest can block the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.

There is a danger that because of the Hungarian blockade of the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine will stop until Orban remains in power – that is, until at least 2022. One country could block the efforts of a potential candidate – so Greece, in 2008, blocked the admission of Macedonia to NATO because of an old dispute about the name, which Athens considered part of its history. The things are there.

In this situation Ukraine could use the intermediation of Poland, which has excellent relations with Hungary, and Romania. In may 2014, at that time Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, has already defended the position of Ukraine at the meeting of leaders of the Visegrad four, urging Viktor Orban not to repeat the theses of the Kremlin propaganda against Ukraine – Orban has released a couple of years.


Donald Tusk at a meeting with Orban in 2014 (photo EPA)

Offer mediation of Poland in relations with Hungary may seem discouraging, but the government has no strategy to resolve this conflict. But there is a reason to explain the lack of progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration of the machinations of Budapest, not by the failure of the fight against corruption, reform of state institutions and the economy.

From the confrontation of Ukraine with its Western neighbors has won only the Kremlin is interested in the formation of the hostile environment around Ukraine. The conflict with Poland, Romania and Hungary here you can add close revenge of Pro-Russian forces in Moldova, Belarus ‘ dependence on Russia, the ambivalent position of the government of Slovakia is carrying out reverse gas to Ukraine, but dream about the lifting of sanctions against Russia. If we add to this growing in the U.S. and among EU leaders ‘ dissatisfaction with the failure of the fight against corruption in Ukraine – and all this is – an ideal situation for the Kremlin. Freeing up resources after the Syrian campaign in 2019, Russia will be armed and ready when the Ukrainian political system will sway from broken promises and pre-election battles, and in the region and in the West, many will not trust the Ukrainian authorities of the States.




The threat of exclusion: what are the risks of Ukraine conflict with its Western neighbors 23.11.2017

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