Being a part of Europe geographically, Ukraine for many years aims to consolidate this state politically and economically - namely, to become a member of the European Union. But has not yet completed this missionsuccessfully. Ukraine has to overcome the delays and obstacles along the way, and the inhabitants of the country are already beginning to doubt its European future. What are the reasons for failures of Ukraine and what can be done to achieve success? Kyryll Zhyvotovskyy, an Executive Director of EUROPEAN CHOICE – non-profit organization, aiming for Ukraine to become EU member by the year 2030, answered our questions.
Talking about Europe, how does it estimate the current potential of Ukraine as a European country, economic and social state? Maybe there are some countries and parties which benefit from rejecting the signing of Ukraine-EU Association?
The only country in the world that, apparently, dreams of our internal and external problems is our northern neighbor, Russia. I would not say that we have enemies in the European Union, who wouldn’t like to see us as successful, democratic country. Rather, we can say that there are some Eurosceptics in each country, for whom the idea of a "united Europe" is like a thorn in the side. What might bethe benefits in case when Association is stalling? And let's be frank, the question is not even linked tothe results of the Netherlands’referendum.
The question is what values we'll bring with us to Europe except borscht, pierogi and hopak– to the common culture,into the general budgetand tothe common fund of the European Success.Yes, geographically, we are already in Europe, and we do not need confirmation or recognition, but we still have a lot to do to become "friends" in the civilized world of efficiency, progress and solidarity. So let's be frank, it seems to me that the greatest joy and the "benefit" from the current situation will get thosepeople whose offshore pockets are alreadyfilled, but in any wayit’s not the middle class, young people or pensioners.
What are those words we can use to persuade Europeans to support Ukraine?
It's not the words. It’s reforms. Only reforms.Though everyone understands that this word has become synonymous with Ukrainian "improvement" without any positive actions.Europeans have nothing against usandby and large do not expect anything. Those who have a business here –thousands of Europeans, not millions - want us to set up clear rules.Those who come here as tourists, want to travel on smooth roads and have the service of the European level.
So it is necessary to persuade them by making changes, restructuring our Soviet republic into a full-fledged European state. We will not achieve great progress only with words and information campaigns. Now comesthe era of economy and real affairs, so the goals and the objectives in the matter of the European choice of Ukraine and European Integration will only become more complicated.
Russian Anti-Ukrainian propaganda. To what extent it is influential?
Russian propaganda is not just a set of television stations, websites, bots, campaigns and TV presenters. This is a national strategy.Russia in this respect has accepted the best inheritance from the Soviet Union, in contrast to us, who retained corruption, cronyism and deficit. Russian propaganda ismultidirectional, and certainly one of its tasks is to destroy Ukrainian statehood, to proveour inconsistency with the help of real facts and comments. In Russia, it is not a propaganda, it is a national idea and politics, because it has the real goals.
Russian propaganda - it’s not just newspapers and TV channels.It’s the entire machine of Russian authorities which voices unified “messages”. It is a system of politicians and political parties in Europe and worldwide, it is the all annexed as well as not recognized territories. It is show trials,it is the control of society. The only thing to what it all might lead – it’s the collapse of the Russian Federation in the near future.
How do you think, what are the main differences between people who support and oppose the European integration of Ukraine? In their worldview, values, political views?
There is no big difference between supporters and opposers. Both they are among those who earn enough, and among those who are poor and starving. Now we are facing a civilizational choice. One is Russian, another is European.In Russian choice all values of life were granted to people by the Lord God and Tsar-Father - freedom, food, success.In another choice all the achievements are the result of human work. Of course, the citizens of Ukraine are subconsciously waiting for the time, when this "European" standard of living, life, state of mind will come to them by the wave of a magic wand.Also, we have already realized that without work and efforts our European targets will remain on paper.
So I think that the main difference between these people is a self-confidence, a personal motivation in their work achievements. Also, the situation is influenced by the fact that he majority of Ukrainians have never traveled outside of Ukraine. Also the experience of previous generations affects the mood of modern Ukrainians. For 25 years, our country has been formally independent.But this period of time was not enough for us to make a choiceand start moving towards the dream. Those who support the European choice have not forgotten how to believe and to dream.But this is not enough for the progress - we must act. And act quickly and decisively.
How much Ukraine is in agenda of simple European citizen?
We are lagging behind the European world for 20 years. So, all the hopes that people of the future think about us are very, very small. I want to believe in fact that Ukraine still remains a priority for Europeans. It can be true when we speak about our close neighbors - Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania. But at the same time it’s an illusion that someone will care of us more than we have to. We are the ones who drive on rutted roads, it's our green areas in the trash, we are those people who chose the politicians we now have.
Most often, the life of Europeans - it is also a struggle for survival, but in a different format of figures. No Polish or Lithuanian or Slovakcitizen did get for free what they now have, and this will not happen in the future.Therefore, proceeding from this concept - it is necessary to admit to ourselves - all the people firstly, secondly, thirdly and tenthly are concerned about their present and future day. In 2013, Lithuanians have told me that they take a loan that would pay the rent in the winter - and in the summer they would pay it back.That time we were laughing and thinking of the "funny Lithuanians". And now we will have to pass through the same situation.
The EUROPEAN CHOICE - is a nonprofit CSO based in Ukraine since 2003. By cooperating with European institutions and organizations, it promotes the European values, democracy, culture, business, and ‘knowledge and awareness’ tourism in Ukraine. Through campaigns based on European Day, Week, and Year themes, European Choice helps Ukrainian decision-makers, civil society professionals and practitioners, entrepreneurs, and media to boost its integration with Europe and the European Union. It’s members are highly experienced professionals with skills, knowledge and liaisons for international investors, european policy and integration, international development, anticorruption, media and lobby, culture and CSR. European Choice has more than 40 completed projects in collaboration with partners in Europe and the United States with a total budget of approximately 1.4 million euro. Today, this organization cooperates with some 700 network partners, activists and volunteers from 85 cities in Ukraine.