Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Ukraine: A Federalist Future?

Ukraine: A Federalist Future?

by Rene Wadlow
April 21, 2014

Can tensions in Ukraine be lowered without a federalist-constitutional restructuring of the State?

On Thursday, 17 April 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergy Lavrov, Ukraine's acting Foreign Minister Andriii Deshchytsia, and the European Union Foreign Policy representative Catherine Ashton met in Geneva for a one-day exchange to lower international tensions growing over the situation in Ukraine and to take steps to limit the growing violence within Ukraine.

The meeting came shortly after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned in a 15 April report that “Misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred need be urgently countered in Ukraine to avoid the further escalation of tensions in the country...It is critical for the Government to prioritise respect for diversity, inclusivity and equal participation of all including minorities in Ukraine.”

Also on the eve of the Geneva talks, in a question-and-answer session on Russian television, President Vladimir Putin said that he had been authorized by the Parliament to use military force in eastern Ukraine if necessary but hoped that it could be avoided. The statement highlighted the possible use of Russian forces, some 40,000 of which are stationed on the Russian-Ukraine frontier. Tensions, including the shooting of some pro-Russian demonstrators around occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine are growing. In response NATO forces have been strengthened in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States.

The diplomatic negotiations in Geneva were basically an appeal to lower tensions and to avoid a growing escalation. The Russian Government has denied that the pro-Russian armed militias around government building in eastern Ukraine are under their control. This leaves open the question of under whose control are these men in military uniforms but without markings.

The negotiations stressed the “leading role” that the 100 civilian monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should play in monitoring the human rights situation including the rights of national minorities and in reporting on the security situation and possible violent incidents.

The concluding statement of the Geneva meeting called for the disarming of “all illegal armed groups” and vacating “all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns.” Since the pro-Russian faction has said that they consider the provisional Ukraine Government as “illegal”, one must not expect a fast disarmament or an end to occupation of buildings unless there are radical changes in the near future.

One possibility of lowering tensions on a longer-term basis is the start of discussions on a federal-decentralized government structure for Ukraine that would not divide the country but would foster local and regional autonomy. Both the current President of Ukraine in a 13 April statement and authorities of the Russian Federation have raised the possibility of new federal structures to be approved by referendum. At a press conference following the Geneva meeting, Sergey Lavrov said that the Ukrainian crisis must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves and that they should “start a nationwide national dialogue within the framework of the constitutional process, which must be inclusive and accountable.”

Efforts of both governments and non-governmental organizations must be undertaken to lessen tensions and to create opportunities for such a creative constitutional dialogue. World citizens who have a long history of reflection on federalist approaches in conflict resolution have warned against simplified concepts in the Ukraine discussion. Federalism is not a first step to the disintegration of the Ukraine. But it is not a “magic solution” either.

Government structures are closely related to the aims which people wish to achieve. The aims of the Ukrainians are multiple. The current situation in Ukraine does not lend itself to calm considerations of basic orientations or for compromises. Dialogue and open discussion is needed so that these aims are seen more clearly and then structures created to facilitate these aims. Those outside Ukraine, both governments and NGOs must facilitate discussions of aims and structures so that common interests may be found and current tensions reduced.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Latest Allegations Against Helen Clark

According to former PM and UNDP leader current Helen Clark, the allegations leveled at her this week in a Foreign Policy magazine article by the prize-winning UN journalist Colum Lynch have been ‘totally fabricated’. Hmmm. That would be very, very surprising. More>>

Letter From The Editor: The State Of Scoop

Gordon Campbell: The PledgeMe campaign currently being run by the Scoop Foundation does provide a useful opportunity to update you on what gets done with your money. Further down the track, other documents will set out what we plan to do, resources permitting. For now, lets stick with the practical nuts and bolts. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Rise Of The Far Right (And Battle Bots)

In his victory speech at the Cannes film festival this week, the British film director Ken Loach [pictued] warned that the rise of far right parties in Europe was being fuelled by the economic policies of austerity, and manifested in a welfare bureaucracy that systematically denies assistance to those in most need. More>>

Julienne Molineaux: Stuff-Me - The Newspaper Gobble-Up

In New Zealand, concentration of newspaper ownership via mergers and acquisitions has a long pre-digital history. The trends of declining readership and fragmented audiences began before digital content, and mergers and acquisitions proceeded apace, enabled by weak legislative protections. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Foundation Membership Drive:

The Scoop Foundation: The best chance to create an independent guardian for public interest journalism in NZ

The Scoop Foundation is seeking public support to safeguard the future of public interest journalism in New Zealand. To ensure public access to comprehensive, free, timely news is maintained during this dark hour for journalism. And to provide every voice in NZ the opportunity to be heard in the national debate. More>>
PLEDGE NOW: Journalism: A New Model - The 2016 Scoop Foundation Membership Drive

Scoop Foundation Timeline:

Gordon Campbell: On Trump And The Madman Theory

Years ago, Richard Nixon explained to his chief adviser Bob Haldeman what has since become known as the “Madman Theory” of foreign policy. Basically, if America’s rivals could be reminded that Nixon was an unstable, rabid anti-Communist with his finger on the nuclear trigger, Nixon reasoned, then maybe they’d be less willing to challenge the US in the world’s hot spots… More>>

Australia And The South China Sea: Another Foreign Policy Blunder Looming

James O’Neill: The overblown rhetoric from the United States has led at least one commentator to describe so-called ‘analyses’ of the South China Sea situation as “the biggest load of analytical rubbish about South East Asia to emerge since the CIA mistook bee feces for a Soviet-supplied biological weapon in 1981.” More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news