Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

English

Who Lost Ukraine?

It would be a mistake to view Ukraine's ongoing mass protests, triggered by the government’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the EU, as a replay of the country's 2004 Orange Revolution. What has brought Ukrainians into the streets this time is the fear that their European prospects could be foreclosed forever.

VIENNA – Karl Marx famously remarked that major historical events occur twice – the “first time as tragedy, then as farce.” In Ukraine, sadly, tragedy and farce are inseparable.

That is why it would be a mistake to read the current wave of mass political protest, triggered by the government’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union, as a second Orange Revolution. In 2004, inspired by the hope of joining the EU as soon as possible, Ukrainians poured into the streets to take back a stolen presidential election. Back then, the Union looked like a fantastic machine capable of making authoritarian states democratic and poor societies rich.

What has brought Ukrainians into the streets this time is something different – the fear that their country’s European prospects could be foreclosed forever. They know that their country will not join the EU in the next decade, and they know that the EU itself is in crisis. But they are determined to insist on their right to a European future. Fear of losing that hope, it seems, is at the heart of the EU’s soft power when the prospect of enlargement is fading away.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/cfbAXAc;
  1. marin8_Bernd von Jutrczenkapicture alliance via Getty Images_germanyfinanceminister Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images

    Germany Can Reduce Its External Surplus

    Dalia Marin

    For years, Germany's ballooning current-account surplus has rankled the rest of the world, and German policymakers have thrown up their hands as if powerless to do anything about it. But the external imbalance is a result of policies that are fully within the government's power to change.

    0
  2. op_campanella7_Aurelien MeunierGetty Images_billgatesrichardbransonthumbsup Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

    Abolish the Billionaires?

    Edoardo Campanella

    Even many of the wealthiest Americans would agree that the United States needs to overhaul its tax policies to restore a sense of social justice. But, notes Edoardo Campanella, Future of the World Fellow at IE University's Center for the Governance of Change, such reforms would not be enough to restart the engines of social mobility and promote greater equality of opportunity.

    11