Ukraine: triumph of tele-guided democracy

Anna van Densky, OPINION Election of Vladimir Zelensky demonstrates huge disappointment of the Ukrainians with their political class, even more, than their hopes for a meaningful change of the malfunctioning system. Ukrainian politics, run by a group of oligarchs has been a vaudeville for sufficiently long time to make a comedian look appropriate in the President’s office.

The decadence hit a new low, indicating there is a complete loss of confidence in the establishment, unable to produce any leader with a relevant background convincing enough to be worthy of dropping a ballot. Zelensky wins not because his programme opens new perspectives, but because the Ukrainians wish to trash their political Pantheon, plagued by corruption, and indulging in demagogy.

However change from Poroshenko to Zelensky perceived by many as a revolution, is nothing more than a change of head on Emperor‘s sculpture in times of declining Rome: they succeeded too often, leaving insufficient time to carve the entire figure in marble, and the clever local governors  in provinces adapted by removing the detached heads.

In particular case of showman Zelensky elections, one can conclude the Ukraine is true to itself: predictable in is instability, grotesque, and volatile.

Ascending to presidency due to his popularity as an actor, Zelensky has no political force behind him, – a convenient disposition for clans at power, who are content with a President starring in TV sequel, while they continue business as usual, enriching themselves in reality.

Considered by experts as the ninth most corrupt nation in the world, with almost $50 billion gross external debt, and public debt around 70% of  GDP, Ukrainian kleptocracy is comfortable with a comedian as a head of state – weaker is the president easier is to continue their own way.  Ukraine ‘Semper idem‘ – always the same…

Nevertheless the change is coming,  but not due to the new President of Ukraine, but the context: both the US, and the EU have to revise their foreign policy vis-à-vis Kiev, although for different reasons. While Europe is growing increasingly Euro skeptic, demanding from Brussels to put the EU citizens interests first, before pursuing the Enlargement, and poring  billions on integration of neighboring states. The US has to resolve the problem of contribution to NATO of the European allies: among 29 members, just five meet 2% GDP defence spending target: Greece, Estonia, the UK, Latvia, and the US. 

Without any perspective to enter the EU or NATO, immense debts, endemic corruption, ongoing conflict in Donbass, protracted argument with Russia over gas transit, huge migration rising up to one million a year leaving the country – plagued with multiple setbacks, Ukraine slides into further decline, searching for refuge in a world of illusory – voting a man, who incarnated their dream of an honest president in a TV sequel.  Zelensky victory – is a triumph of tele-guided democracy, fusion of reality and fiction, dreams and frustrations, a political jest, an idle tale. A human comedy…

Video below: Vladimir Zelensky dancing in a show:

 

 

 

 

EU Brexit charade

Anna van Densky from EP, Brussels. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) raise concerns about perspective of the UK remaining for upcoming European elections, being “one foot in, one foot out”, as Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) said.

The perspective of electing even more Brexiteers is definitely not inspiring  MEPs, open to endorse additional political declarations, if necessary, however standing firmly by the EU Commission, and Council, refusing the revision of the endorsed deal.

While the attempting to convince Westminster to endorse the deal the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker repeated the UK can have one more extension on condition of the Article 50 Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) endorsement, and proposing clear plans of moving forward with the implementation. The prolongation of uncertainty is not an option.

The tone of the EU top executive was dead, and while he was offering more political declarations. Juncker’s  glances were gloomy, while he switched to the part of speech, describing damages to EU, and even more so to British economy if the no-deal scenario takes place by default. He admitted to read the speech first time during his intervention in Europarliament, because “every word is important“.
If the UK is able to approve the withdrawal agreement with a viable majority by 12 April, then the European Union should accept an extension until 22 May“, Juncker concluded.

Responding to the worst fears of MEPs, Gerard Batten (UKIP, UK) called Britons to vote massively for UKIP in case the country participates in European elections in May.

 

Congo: EU sanctions failed again

The expulsion of the EU Ambassador Bart Ouvry from the Democratic Republic of Congo is a serious blow to the image of already weakened by Brexit block. In multi-polar world Congo will be not short of friends and those, willing to co-operate with one of the richest African nations. The EU is losing again its positions, due to its outdated foreign policy, inclined to give unsolicited advise and tutorials on democracy and human rights. The price to pay is high – in face of one diplomat, Congolese government turns its back on 28 European states for at least a decay to come.

The EU insistence on prolongation of sanctions on Presidential candidate, Interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary,  who is the incumbent President’s chosen successor, shows a very poor analysis and judgement of the situation in Congo, especially in view of a broader trend of political longevity of African leaders. It is highly likely that Kabila‘s protégé will win the bid, and it is certain, that he will not forgive and forget the position of Brussels diplomacy.

“Africa’s future is also our future,” said the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said recently at high level Africa-EU Forum in Vienna. However, if the course of the EU foreign policy remains unchanged,  and rigid, soon Europe will be excluded from African future without reverse, and Africa’  future will be shared with Chinese, Indians, and Arabs.

So far the EU politics of sanctions failed wherever it was applied conducted at costs of growth and jobs, leading to impoverishment of Europeans, whose despair erupted in Yellow Vests protests in France. But who will criticize French Minister of interior for an excessive use of force against the protectors?..  Who will apply sanctions against the Interior Minister?..  Quod licet iovi non licet bovi… (What is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to a bull – Latin proverb).

Congo’s most important export partners are: China (24% of total exports) followed by South Africa (22%) and the European Union (4%). Main imports are: foodstuffs, fuel, textiles and machinery, and leading partners: Angola (15%), France (13%) and Singapore (10%).

#FutureofEurope: MEPs fail to show up

Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel received warm welcome from European Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani,  who stressed the importance of these debates on #FutureofEurope with European leaders, which ‘enable us to look ahead at what we can do together: member states, Commission and European Parliament”. However we did not receive any confirmation for the ‘importance of the debate’ from the behalf of the overwhelming  majority of MEPs, who simply failed to show up.

A few of Parliament’s group leaders praised Michel’s commitment to a strong Europe that delivers  added value to citizens, referring to the city of Brussels not only as the capital of Belgium, but also as the heart of the Europe. However, their compliments did not sound very convincing in a big void space.

One can question if the idea to give the PM speech of such a paramount significance in Brussels during mini-plenary was such a good idea, and wouldn’t it be better to follow the established format of presenting Belgium in Strasbourg? But this thought by no means diminishes criticism towards MEPs who regard their participation in mini-plenary as ‘benevolat‘. It is definitely not.

The nonchalant attitude is especially detrimental in view of upcoming European elections. In case the citizens will adopt the symmetrical attitude towards MEPs and ignore polling stations, the European Parliament would simply suffer lack of legitimacy, dramatically affecting the #FutureofEuope, at least its #EU dimension.

Ab absurdo: Puigdemont as asylum-seeker

Anna van Densky, OPINION The circulating in mainstream media hypothesis of President of Catalan Republic Carles Puigdemont escapade to Brussels in search of political asylum can’t be regarded otherwise as absurd.

First, if politicians have to flee Spain because of dissent, it will mean that Kingdom of Spain is not a democracy. (Political dissident from Span? Hmmm… It reminds me of something…)

Second, it would mean that organising plebiscite is a criminal activity, which will provoke a confrontation with the United Nations, being in contradiction with the most sacred part of international law – the human rights.

Third, the attack on human rights will torpedo the work of entire EU External Actions Service, discrediting their efforts to improve human rights situation outside the bloc.

Forth, it will reinforce the public sympathy for Catalans, and raise criticism against the European institutions for not respecting their own engagements, and principles. So many citizens will ignore the next elections to the European Parliament, which will be a blow to the EU credibility. Imagine if only 20% of Europeans come to drop ballots for EU?..

So there are some reasons for which Carles Puigdemont will be never charged for organising a plebiscite, and never arrested.

Unfortunately, the crisis government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy created will continue, however the EU can not afford to let it rub off its own image and activities, subsequently the EU will not allow Puigdemont to become Europe’s Nelson Mandela. The Brussels has many faults, but giving in to Madrid in human rights abuse means to agree to look like a theatre of absurd – a suicidal move for an already shaken by Brexit project. Ab absurdo!

 

Brexit talks in Brussels

Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis vowed to “get down to work” ahead of a first full round of negotiations, however the gap between the EU27 financial claims, and the UK readiness to contribute to Europe’s purse after departure remains huge, so is the order of talks, imposed by the bloc, insisting on settling the ‘divorce’ bill first, and arranging a new framework of relations after.

The EU27 financial claims widely considered as an Apple of Discord between Brussels and the UK government, accepting to contribute beyond Brexit in some programmes, but not in a lavish ways the EU apparatchiks desire. The departure of the second net contributor leaves a huge hole in the EU27 budget, without an immediate solution how to mend it, putting many EU projects at risk.

The incumbent EU executives are also looking for the ways to conclude their mandate without having egg on their faces for shrinking activities in European project. Many experts consider that the Enlargement to the East without respect of Copenhagen criteria, and open door migration policy undermined the EU, forcing Britons to leave. There are many forecasts the UK will not be the only country eager to end its membership in the advanced democracies club, increasingly shifting away from its original concept of stability and prosperity in Europe.

Failed Mogherini’s bit of trolling May

It looks the EU top diplomat Federcia Mohgerini’s attempt to troll the UK Prime Minister May failed – there will be no ‘hung’ Parliament in the UK, and #Brexit talks will start in 10 days as foreseen due to the alliance between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), joining with 10 MPs. Apparently the heavy-weight in politics May is not an easy target even for mega-trolls:)

However it would be better for the EU executives to restrain from the trolling PM May in the future, because on contrary to Brussels, leaving without the Article 50 deal has a lot of political benefits for the Conservatives, delivering  the desirable STOP of paying Brussels all at once. The departure of the  UK being a second net contributor with full membership fee of £17.8 billion (the deduction of the Thacher’s rebate reduces it to £12.9 billion),  or £35 million a day, – this departure leaves the EU without an answer how to mend the giant hole in the pocket.

The chances of Conservatives oping for #hardBrexit in alliance with DUP loom large, envisaging the scenario of the UK leaving Brussels ‘elite’ insolvent, and immobilized to move forward their ultimate target of ‘more Europe.’