Laszlo Kemeny, Miklos K. Radvanyi
The so-called Maidan revolution of 2014, and the subsequent five years under President Petro Poroshenko have brought nothing but unrelenting catastrophes upon the since 1991 independent former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. During former President Petro Poroshenko’s reign, Crimea has been lost to the Russian Republic, a bloody civil war has devastated the Donbas region, hundreds of thousands of educated Ukrainians have left the country for the European Union, the national currency, the hryvnia, has lost more than 20% of its value vis-a-vis the Euro, inflation has hit astronomical proportions, the economy has flirted with total bankruptcy and presently only vegetates on the handouts of the IMF, the national debt has reached 40% of the GDP, the all pervasive corruption has impoverished the entire society except Mr. Poroshenko and his cronies, criminal organizations have controlled large segments of the economy, and the Ukrainian per capita income has fallen to the last place in Europe behind even Moldova and Bulgaria.
Under these circumstances, there could not have been surprising that at least a year before the presidential election opinion polls already indicated Petro Poroshenko’s defeat. Volodymyr Zelensky clearly rod on the crest of ubiquitous dislike of the former president. Yet, few have had expected the tidal wave with which the new President Volodymyr Zelensky beat his predecessor. In the first round, Volodymyr Zelensky received 30.24% of the votes, while Petro Poroshenko trailed him with 15.95%. The second round brought a total political disaster to Petro Poroshenko. He ended up with only 24.46%, while Volodymyr Zelensky gathered 73.23% of the total votes.
With this kind of electoral victory, President Zelensky has won a popular mandate to transform Ukrainian politics from a semi-criminal state to a true democracy. In this context, democracy should mean a system of government in which the will of the majority of the citizenry must be respected with the right of the minority to constructively oppose the forces in power. On the other hand, the majority must govern within the limits of the constitution and the laws and respect the morality and traditions of the Ukrainian society. The ultimate objective should be to rebuild and strengthen the legal and moral foundations of the Ukrainian nation.
However, this task is enormous and full of trepidations. For these reasons, President Zelensky should resist attempts of superficial experimentations. Therefore, his first objective should be to establish the rule of law. Secondly, he should fight resolutely Ukraine’s destructive opposition headed by former president Poroshenko. Meanwhile, he should not forget that the guarantee of good politics resides in the character of the politician. Simultaneously, President Zelensky should allow a constructive opposition to participate freely in the political processes. Thirdly, President Zelensky should strengthen the Ukrainian families. This can be done by legislation and also by establishing a holiday honoring the family unites across the country.
On the larger scale, Ukraine needs peace. Peace with Russia and peace with its minorities. Without such an internal and an external peace the eternal struggle for Ukrainian statehood will fail again. Moreover, without peace the reconstruction of the Ukrainian state will never materialize. Finally, without peace economic recovery will never become a reality.
Taking all these requirements into account, the policies of the United States of America and the European Union should focus primarily on the normalization of the
Ukrainian state from within and only secondarily on the present hostilities with Russia. Once the ongoing civil war is ended, the troubled relations with Russia can be addressed from a better strategic position.
The key to Ukraine is to understand that the country is replete with maliciously placed political, economic, financial, cultural, ethnic, religious, and moral landmines. These mines can only be defused gradually and with the greatest caution. To achieve a positive result, Ukraine needs all the help that could be marshalled by President Zelensky at home and the international community outside the country.