Review Hari Stefanatos The first mosque in Slovenia that is to be built in Ljubljana is about the enter the next stage of its construction in the coming weeks, since the Islamic Community in Slovenia on Wednesday commissioned a contractor for the first phase of construction works, almost nine months after the symbolic ceremony
Culture FoundationONLINE JOURNAL12.06.2015 | 00:00
The experts from the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva have issued even more scathing conclusions about how the European Union is affecting events in Ukraine and what that means for the EU.
According to the Swiss investigators, «The positive effect of the EU integration policies is obviously highly questioned: although it may have worked out in certain countries, it was catastrophic in other countries such as Romania and Bulgaria. However, the EU has always had a stabilizating [sic] role in all of these countries where the tense economical situation in fragile economies could have strongly destabilized the social and political structure in many occasions. We shall also notice that Ukraine can be considered as the second major failure of the EU foreign policy after Yugoslavia because the Union was not able to impede the war». This is because «democracy cannot be ‘imposed’ from outside, and that crime without control can lead an entire geographical zone and a massive population to a disaster of war, hate and cruelty, scratching to the end the fine glaze of civilization humanity has taken over centuries to build».
For that reason, it is possible that «Ukraine might be the ‘nemesis’ of Europe», as a sort of comeuppance for its violation of social and moral standards. And that includes more than just the fears of sharply heightened competition on the European labor market after a possible influx of Ukrainian «guest workers». «As it happened with the integration of the Eastern European countries (including Poland), the massive emigration toward Western Europe countries created huge problems not only in terms of criminality exportation but also in terms of ‘political machine’ and unfair competition in the labor markets».
European qualms are much more serious. They worry that the leaders of Ukraine will take their cue from Georgia’s tactics for fighting organized crime and force Ukrainian underworld groups to shift their operational bases into «the very heart of European institutions» – in other words, colonizing the most prosperous countries in Europe. «However, the situation is more dangerous for Europe than for Ukrainians. Of course, the Ukrainian population is suffering from privations, violence, corruption and arbitrary ruling in the countryside, suburbs etc. But this situation forces many Ukrainians to flee their country to the EU, some of them bringing in their luggages improved criminal activities and know-how. This flow of new criminal [sic] on saturated and organized illegal markets will force the existing criminal groups within the EU to reorganize and share the pie with another actor. If this will lead to an increase of the capacities of the EU organized crime groups (Ukrainians can bring lots of capacities, in weapons, in man work, in corruption schemes and economical crime), there will be also tragedies and killings in local mafia wars throughout the EU».
The Swiss experts also reached an interesting conclusion in regard to the spin that European propaganda puts on events in Ukraine: «The war also exacerbated the ‘media’ and propaganda war. The official media, the internet and the private media, in Ukraine but also in the EU, the US on one side and in Russia on the other side started an image fight, aiming at legitimizing its own position. But the ‘media war’ has had a direct impact on the populations of the EU, because it challenged also the legitimacy of the EU institutions themselves on the matter, their independence, their quality, their capacities to bring to their customers a reliable information with intelligent comments and analysis».
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The authors highlighted their recommendations about how to proceed in Ukraine, because events there are increasingly reminiscent of accounts from the former Yugoslavia. As such, the potential aftermath of the EU’s policy toward Ukraine could be similar to the repercussions suffered in Yugoslavia: The «EU shall not repeat the mistakes made in the Balkans to stop the war and ensure the positions of extremists. We have now more than 15 years of experience to analyze the outcomes of such disastrous policies: widespread corruption, continuous high unemployment, ecological disasters and creation of ‘mafia-states’ or closed extremists communities, booming of any illegal trafficking, hardly developing infrastructures and misery among educated populations».
These findings in regard to Ukraine’s present and future are quite damning, including the verdict on the government: «The current institutions are not efficient at all. They give the impression to hold only because of the war. As we have seen these early days of March 2015, the respect of the Minsk agreements which have effectively seen a withdrawal of the heavy weapons along the ceasefire line have lighted other fires in Kiev almost immediately: polemics, disputes, fights, etc. As it is, the future shows signs to slip over a more autocratic government in order to control the forces that are currently ruling the country (including organized crime groups) and to avoid a total chaos. This will lead or to a soviet-style totalitarism, or to an extreme nationalism. It seems currently, with the help of some EU members, that the path looks more the second than the first option».
Of course Ukraine’s slide into a neo-Nazi state is being given the trappings of various democratic formalities, but those efforts come to naught: «The Ukrainian state legitimacy moves through elections also seems to be ‘medical patches’ to a more deep cancer». And against a backdrop of civil war, «the direct implication of foreign countries such as the EU, Poland, Germany, France, the United States, Israel and Russia in Ukraine’s destiny turns the possible outcomes even more difficult, uncertain and dark».
The conclusions of the study’s authors are even more categorical in regard to the prospects of a unitary Ukraine: «It seems that in a mid-term future, Ukraine will never be in the capacity to be a centralized state. Indeed, the institutions shall leave more space to the regions and create a true federation such as Germany, the US or Switzerland». But they do not feel that even an integrated, federal Ukraine could promise a solution to all the problems: «We believe that future cannot be acceptable for Ukraine. Even if the country shall split in two different countries, the situation and challenges will remain the same: how to ensure a viable prosperity framework for the populations».
However, the question of the country’s future, ravaged by civil war and is now sliding toward fascism, is one that is being determined far outside of Ukraine herself. And the Swiss researchers are not shy about admitting this: «As it was reminded to us in February 2015, ‘the future of Ukraine hardly depends on the Ukrainians.’»
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Swiss corruption investigators have pronounced their verdict on Ukraine (I)
Alexander DONETSKY | 11.06.2015 | 00:00
In May 2015, the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva published a major study (185 page) on the state of corruption in Ukraine.
The Geneva investigators gave high marks to the steps taken by the «tyrant» and «extortionist» Yanukovych to combat bribery, noting that many of the legislative acts passed during his administration made life much more difficult for Ukrainian grifters, including highly placed officials. The main argument in favor of this position has been, however, the one-sided application of the anti-corruption measures, which have been used primarily against the former president’s political opponents. In the text of the report there is no trace of the usual condemnation of the indictment of former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko that is typical in the European press, and the corruption dossier of Yulia Tymochenko was issued as a separate chapter in the Addendum to the document.
The authors of the document believe that groups of oligarchs and influence are the most significant factor in Ukrainian corruption, and also, accordingly, the scope of the corrupt practices, which is predicated on their proximity to the government in power: «The alliance between the oligarchs and the state has become entrenched at the highest levels of government, while at the local level, judges, police, local government officials and politicians have organized themselves into a corrupt network of mutual enrichment at the public expense». Moreover, many of these groups have ties to Soviet and post-Soviet organized crime groups. For example, the investigators take a hard look at the associations between Dmitry Firtash and the organized crime boss Semyon Mogilevich, as well as the links to the criminal activities of former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko.
Referring to the decision of the Venice Commission, the authors of the document note that «the lustration law contained some serious flaws; it called for revision of the lustration criteria, administrative decisions on lustration to be postponed, and that information on who is subject to lustration should only be published after a final court ruling was issued». Considering the draft of the law, they noted, «All three drafts are overly broad and vague and may set the stage for unlawful mass arbitrary political exclusion».
The Swiss researchers warn: «The lustration program might prove to be a disaster for Ukraine, especially in the law enforcement sector». The same applies to the judiciary: «Imposing the lustration inside the judicial apparel is a major political mistake». This was explained as follows: «First because it sacks out most of the indispensable professionals needed to ‘run the machine,’ but because it replaces a political allegiance by another one, under the will of building a more independent and corruption-free judicial administration. In fact, it just replaces the older officials with new ones that are submitted to the exact same rules, and everybody knows that the same causes will produce the very same effects».
By and large, the lustration of judicial employees will not produce the desired effect and could even exacerbate the situation: «The old sacked one will have no other possibility to turn even more corrupt if they want to survive economically and socially in a new Ukraine. This will undermine again the legitimacy of the judicial administration and make it even worse than it was before».
Stephen Cohen is a professor of Russian Studies and History at New York University, one of the nation’s foremost experts on Russian-American relations and the author of nine books on Russian history, including his latest, „Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.“ He’s also a contributor to The Nation Magazine, and with his wife, The Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, recently traveled to Russia to personally interview American dissident Edward Snowden.
Cohen has been a vocal critic of US/NATO policy over the Ukraine crisis, as well as US media’s depiction of Putin as the aggressor and Ukraine the victim. What is the true standing of Russia as an international power? Do you agree with Professor Cohen on the Russian-Ukranian conflict? and Russia’s popular image? Is he indeed a „Putin apologist“ as his critics have said?
Cenk Uygur has a thorough interview and discussion on Russia with Stephen F. Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies at NYU.