Michael Moser re Václav Klaus (1)

Michael Moser re Václav Klaus (1)

Vienna, 28 February 2014

Mr. Klaus, are you sure you are representing the citizens of the Czech Republic in a responsible way?

Michael Moser replying to
The Václav Klaus Institute’s public statement on the situation in the Ukraine (original: http://www.institutvk.cz/texts-in-english/vaclav-klaus-institutes-public-statement-situation-ukraine)

Dear Sir,
When I learned today about your “Public Statement on the Situation in the [sic] Ukraine,” I was, to put it mildly, deeply surprised. I was even more puzzled as Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic that you officially represent, has always emphasized the importance of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
You are a trained economist and an experienced politician, but in your statement you are making some extremely strong statements regarding the history and culture of Ukraine. I am not a historian either, so please let me simply ask you one or two questions regarding each of the issues you raised.
1. The Ukraine is in its present form into a great extent an artificial entity that did not turn into an independent state until the break-up of the Soviet Union two decades ago.
Mr. Klaus, could you please tell me even one state in Europe or elsewhere that is not an artificial entity? Would you kindly remind us when the Czech Republic emerged as an independent state within its current borders? And what does it imply for the Czech Republic that its current boundaries are quite a recent phenomenon?
2. On one hand, it includes territories in the west that had never belonged to the Russian empire (Transcarpathian region, Galicia and others) and became part of Russia only after WW2, and on the other hand territories that were from the 18th century purely Russian (Crimea, Odessa, the Eastern part of the country), for which the independence of the Ukraine meant the extraction from their original nation.
Would you disagree that even the comparatively small Czech Republic has quite a complicated history as well? What would you personally think if someone, e.g., a Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, labeled some parts of the country you represent as historically “purely German”? Would you find that—adequate? Are you, Mr. Klaus, “purely Czech”? Your name betrays the opposite. Still, you are without doubt a loyal citizen of the Czech Republic.
On another matter, how come you refer all things Ukrainian to Russia? And again, what do you generally mean by the expression “purely Russian”? What do you think it would mean to a Crimean Tatar if you told him that he lives in a region that is historically “purely Russian”? Do you believe that the Jewish population of Odesa would be happy if you insisted on the “pure Russianness” of this city? And what precisely makes the Ukrainian movement in 19th-century Odesa “purely Russian” in your view?
3. A certain artificiality of this state and the different perceptions of its inhabitants when it came to its future orientation have paralyzed its political life from the very beginning. It was very visible also from Prague. Another thing was the unsuccessful transformation of the country, the burdensome heritage of communism, as well as the economic and political chaos of the last 20 years.
Do you really think that such statements are adequate for an ambassador of a country of the European Union? I, as an ordinary E.U. citizen, do not regard this as diplomatic behavior or language. I am not a citizen of the Czech Republic. As a citizen of the European Union, I do feel concerned.
4. The Ukraine has remained – and had to remain – a country economically deeply rooted in the post-Soviet bloc, a country linked to Russia and in many respects dependent on it. That is natural and there is no easy way to change it.
To my knowledge, the territories of what today is the Czech Republic were once parts of much larger states as well, weren’t they? The loss of the larger imperial economic networks implied a huge burden for all new nation states that emerged in the center of Europe after the First World War. The Czech Republic was one of them. Regarding Ukraine, have you—as an economist—ever heard that Ukrainians want to break economic ties with the Russian Federation? Have you ever heard that Russian goods have been banned from the Ukrainian market? Or did it occur to you that it is precisely Russia which recently has repeatedly boycotted Ukrainian goods?
5. For Russia, the Ukraine is more than just its closest foreign country, more than e.g. Estonia, Tajikistan or Azerbaijan. It is the historic cradle of its statehood and culture, home to tens of millions of Russians.
Mr. Klaus, I fail to see your point. To my knowledge, Ukrainians are in fact very happy if Russians have a positive attitude toward Ukraine. But what precisely does this imply? Are you seriously trying to describe Kyivan Rus’ as the cradle of Russian statehood only? Are you sure that you are entitled to employ medieval history for your current political agenda, however we may describe it?
Regarding your statement about tens of millions of Russians in Ukraine, I call upon you to refrain from such statements. As a matter of fact, according to the Ukrainian census of 2001, Ukraine is home to 8,3 mln ethnic Russians—not “tens of millions”! Moreover, by far not everyone of these 17.3% ethnic Russians of the population of Ukraine would subscribe to what you are claiming. The “Maidan” protest movement was (and still is) multilingual and multinational. It was organized and carried not only by ethnic Ukrainians, but also by ethnic Russians, Jews, Armenians, Belarusians, Poles, etc. The people of the “Maidan” communicated in Russian as much as they communicated in Ukrainian. Mr. Klaus, these people have risked their lives when they fought for the right to make their own political choices, those choices that you are now trying to deny them.
6. Taking all this into account, the idea of some people in Europe – mainly of political activists but as it seems also of the highest representatives of the EU and the Czech Republic – that we can allow a clash about the future of the Ukraine and lead a fight about its orientation towards West or East ignores reality. It leads the country into an insolvable conflict that cannot have but a tragic ending.
Is that what you are calling “reality”? And what are the alternatives you would like to suggest for Ukraine? No choices?
7. Keeping the Ukraine in its objectively existing geopolitical situation as an independent and at the same time functioning and prosperous state asks in the long term for a large degree of restraint and diplomatic skill both on the side of its politicians and of its partners abroad. What we are currently witnessing on both sides is unfortunately just the opposite.
Honestly, Mr. Klaus, I have never heard that an ambassador from a country of the European Union has questioned the territorial integrity of another European country in public. Mr. Klaus, as a E.U. citizen I would like to call upon you to stop this dangerous behavior immediately. The result can only be a tragic ending for all of us.
8. It is very irresponsible from the West to nurture the ambitions and illusions of radicals from Western Ukraine that there really is a choice between East and West and that the EU and the US can not only support the Ukraine as an entity in its direction towards the West, but can guarantee it in the long run. Such a clear and firm interest on the side of the West is in reality missing and so is the willingness to carry the costs. The West helped to start a crisis that it in fact does not want and the consequences of which it is not prepared to bear.
Do you regard it as responsible behavior if a diplomat of a E.U. state publicizes far-reaching political opinions that openly contradict E.U. policy and the policy of the country he or she represents?
9. Giving the Ukraine a choice between East or West means breaking it. This is, unfortunately, what seems to be happening.
Your message is thus, “Give Ukraine no choice!” I have no more questions.
10. It also seems that most of those involved begin to realize this. The question is whether it is not too late. The belief that this problem can be solved by new elections is an illusion.
As I said, I have no more questions.—

Mr. Klaus, last week thousands of citizens of the Czech Republic took part in a mass demonstration on the Wenceslav Square in Prague to support the citizens of Ukraine and their striving for freedom.
Mr. Klaus, are you really sure you are representing these Czech citizens in a responsible way?

Michael Moser, President of the International Association for Ukrainian Studies

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