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The Orange Revolution was a Revolution of Hope

Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VI
“Ukraine’s Transition to an Established National Identity”

The Orange Revolution was a Revolution of Hope

(UNIS, Washington, DC, September 28, 2005) “Ten months after the Orange Revolution, we have to be satisfied that the mass media in Ukraine is free, that Ukraine’s foreign policy is in the hands of committed individuals and is pointed in a clear strategic direction,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski former National Security Advisor and professor of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University.

In his keynote address to Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VI conference Dr. Brzezinski noted the Orange Revolution was “a true and ecstatic emancipation.” It was the expression of a shared national identity that was defined in a democratic context and became part of the Ukrainian people.

“Dr. Brzezinski has emerged as the moral voice for the deepening of democracy in Poland and Ukraine,” said Adrian Karatnycky, senior scholar at Freedom House. Mr. Karatnycky recently founded the Orange Circle, a new international non-profit initiative to support for the values of the Orange revolution, including democracy, the rule of law, a competitive economy, and honest and transparent government.

His enthusiasm notwithstanding, Dr. Brzezinski spoke to the realities of politics evaluating recent events clearly and not through rose colored glasses. “One can not live forever in hope. But one can get indigestion from too much opportunists,” hinting at the recent agreement signed by President Viktor Yushchenko and former rival Viktor Yanukovich. The challenge for Ukraine’s leadership is to strike a balance between the hope of the Maidan and the imperatives of reality.

“The future of Ukraine should not be shaped by seemingly irreconcilable groups without the participation of the Ukrainian people,” Dr. Brzezinski stressed.

Dr. Brzezinski singled out the efforts of the Ukrainian American Diaspora, particularly their generations’ long dedication to Ukrainian independence. He highlighted the need to support election monitoring projects and civil society building initiatives spearheaded by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. Dr. Brzezinski noted, “Many of you here represent the Ukrainian Diaspora and have always been committed to Ukrainian independence. You have a responsibility to monitor the events and to communicate to the leaders your expectations.”

Very few analysts and policy makers have monitored Ukrainian politics as devotedly as Dr. Brzezinski. Following the dismissal of the government, Russian Ambassador Chernomyrdin held a press conference applauding the changes. Dr. Brzezinski suggested that had a foreign diplomat of similar standing expressed themselves in a similar fashion in the United States, “he’d be in Moscow waiting for his bags having arrived there himself the night before.”

Ukraine is poised to become a member of the WTO later this year. Noting the difficulties and the political realities in Kyiv, over 20 laws remain to be adopted by the Rada that would ensure WTO membership. Dr. Brzezinski stressed that the leadership in Ukraine communicate their expectations and the importance of WTO entry this year. “Ukraine’s future is important to the future of Europe,” said Dr. Brzezinski. “The success of Ukraine will predetermine Russia’s future in Europe.”

Recognizing the will and aspirations of Ukraine, Dr. Brzezinski concluded, “The Ukrainians have to be determined to do this on their own. They’ve proved they are a nation and now they have to remind their leaders it is they who decide the future of their country.”