Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VI
“Ukraine’s Transition to an Established National Identity”
Roundtable VI Begins in Washington DC
(UNIS, Washington DC, September 27, 2005) Michael Sawkiw, Jr., President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America opened the sixth installment of the now traditional Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood series commenting that, “Ukraine is indeed a country of immense proportions and holds within its balance the linchpin of stability and security in Europe.”
Roundtable VI was organized to analyze Ukraine’s transition to an established national identity in the hue of what has become known as Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. As chairman of the Roundtable Steering Committee, Mr. Sawkiw noted that “the Orange Revolution was about the creation of a political nation.” According to Sawkiw, the people of Ukraine moved “the arrows of political development towards an open society” expressing their European identity.
Walter Zaryckyj, Executive Director of the Center for US-Ukrainians Relations and program coordinator for the Roundtable series, noted that the first three roundtables had Ukraine’s external relations as their themes. According to Zaryckyj: “Today’s roundtable marks the culmination of the third in a series that looked at internal themes. The conferences were designed to be a trilogy of trilogies, as Ukraine emerges from the post Soviet space and becomes a mature nation-state.”
Nita Lowey (D-NY), congresswoman from Yonkers, NY echoed American support for Ukraine. “The United States must remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine,” according to Lowey, ranking member on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and a member of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus. Lowey noted that there will be bumps in the road, citing the recent deal President Yushchenko signed with former adversaries.
Recent changes in Ukraine’s government, although notable, have not eclipsed the proceedings. Mr. Anton Buteiko, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister commented that “Following elections in the United States, Republicans and Democrats shake hands and cooperate.” For many in Ukraine, the changes in government are part of normal political developments. Mr. Buteiko was Ukraine’s Ambassador to Romania and resigned from his post in 2003 in a protest against the policy pursued by former President Kuchma to sign the agreement on a Single Economic Space. Mr. Buteiko underscored Ukraine’s European identity having himself returned from meetings in Brussels where he led talks to intensify Ukraine’s entry in the European Union and Euro-Atlantic structures, including NATO.
The morning session addressed physical and economic factors of Ukraine’s “center of gravity.” Mark von Hagen, professor of history at Columbia University and former president of the International Association of Ukrainianists chaired the session charged to contemplate the political dimension of Ukraine’s center of gravity. Stephen Nix, chairman of the International Republican Institute and Nelson Ledsky, chairman of the National Democratic Institute highlighted Ukraine’s advanced development of civil society and political party development. In particular, Mr. Ledsky pointed to the Committee of Voters in Ukraine’s recent statement condemning President Yushchenko’s agreement with former rival Victor Yanukovych as proof positive that civil society will become the bastion of Ukrainian democracy.
“Any discussion of Ukraine’s body politic would be remiss without a discussion about the body economic,” according to Andrij Bihun, Senior International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce and chair of the session contemplating the economic dimension to Ukraine’s national identity. Mr. Bihun observed that Ukraine’s economy is no longer a patient in cardiac care, but still requires post operative supervision.
Anthony Wayne, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State noted that despite deeply rooted problems of corruption, Ukraine has advanced deliberate steps, integrating WTO norms into their legal framework making eventual membership a reality. He observed that Ukraine is strategically located between the Caspian and Black Seas and should do more to capitalize on that advantage and shift the direction of the Odesa-Brody pipeline toward the European Union. Mr. Wayne noted however, that it is fully within Ukraine’s purview to develop regional business initiatives with all its neighbors. “President Bush and President Yushchenko agreed to develop a bilateral market access agreement by the end of the year,” according to Mr. Wayne.
Brian Cox from the U.S. Treasury Department noted several currency controls and financial monitoring agreements between the United States and Ukraine aimed at abetting transnational organized crime. He noted there may be several hurdles to the Ukrainian economy, many of which will require serious attention, such as the marked deceleration of Ukraine’s economic growth. Ariel Cohen, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, noted Ukraine has matured and the United States can no longer treat Ukraine like a “child.” Dr. Cohen noted that the populism of the past eight months may have long lasting effects on the economy which may not be fully felt until after the March 2006 elections. He cautioned that Ukraine will be competing with other emerging economies like India and Korea and must strengthen its financial institutions and economic policies.
Combining presentations with learned philosophers like Myroslav Popovych, director of the Hryhoriy Skovoroda Philosophy Institute and a panel foreshadowing the upcoming March 2006 parliamentary elections with members from the Ukrainian political continuum, round out the end of the first half of the first day of “Roundtable IV: Ukraine’s Transition to an Established National Identity.”