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Country Watch

A Look at the Economic, Political, and Social Events that Shape International Law Around the World

Revolution, Unrest and an Uncertain Future for Ukraine


Just under a decade after the historic Orange Rev- olution in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine has yet again become a focal point for political ac- tivism and a public push for reform. Tensions be- gan in November 2013, when thousands of Ukrai- nians gathered in Kiev to show their disapproval of several key foreign policy decisions made by the former President Viktor Yanukovych. After months of turmoil, Ukrainian protestors have emerged victorious; President Yanukovych was ousted and replaced by interim President Turchynov Valen- tynovych. While change is undoubtedly coming to Ukraine, the success of the new Ukrainian gov- ernment and its ability to maintain an integrated state is not as clear. Although Ukraine remains a diverse and factionalized nation, it has also been making great strides in becoming a modern de- mocracy capable of defending fundamental hu- man rights and prosperity.

For the past decade Ukraine has teetered be- tween two different foreign policy views: one favoring relations with the European Union (EU), and the other favoring relations with Russia. Meanwhile, the country has been preoccupied with major issues of corruption, economic crisis, and tainted elections. These issues led to wide- spread discontent in 2004 during the Ukrainian presidential election, which was largely believed to have been rigged by corruption, voter intimida- tion, and fraud. Yanukovych was initially declared the winner, but the elections were annulled and a revote was declared, leading to a victory for Yanu- kovych’s opponent Viktor Yushchenko.

These candidates embodied the lack of consen- sus among Ukrainians concerning their country’s

cultural and economic ties with its neighbors. Former President Yushchenko, like most of his supporters in the western portion of Ukraine, favors Ukraine’s social and economic integration with the European Union. Former President Yanu- kovych, however, has been a longtime proponent of pro-Russian relations. Yanukovych’s support base comes from southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, where the population has strong lin- guistic and cultural ties to Russia.

Since the contested election, now referred to as the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has shifted to- ward building its relations with the EU. At the Par- is Summit in 2008, leaders of the EU and Ukraine agreed upon the EU-Ukraine Association Agree- ment , which created binding, rules-based pro- visions and clear timelines for the integration of Ukraine with its European neighbors. The Agree- ment also incorporated a Deep and Comprehen- sive Free Trade Area (DCRTA), which provided a structure for opening up markets, addressing competiveness issues, and integrating Ukraine markets with EU standards.

At the 9th Yalta Annual Meeting in 2012, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbour- hood Policy, Štefan Füle had the following remarks concerning Ukraine and the Agreement, “I dreamt about seeing Ukraine deeply rooted amongst EU democracies… I’m talking here about the most powerful foreign policy instrument of the EU and the expression of its ultimate transformative power – the perspective for a country to accede. The perspective for a country to use the magnet of the EU to modernize, to transform and to build more democracy in its own heart.” However, vari- ous issues have arisen that have created prob- lems with the implementation of the Agreement. In 2011, Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko,

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 4 » May 2014

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