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 Myopia Of The Business News

Listening to the business news is a bit like eavesdropping on the radio transmissions from space aliens. There is no discernible connection between the concerns of the captains of these space ships – the bank economists and the finance house spokesmen – and the concerns of ordinary listeners back on Planet Earth. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Clinton, Sanders, Trump And Cruz

Come November, the world will have a new US president-elect and the least unlikely winner still looks to be Hillary Clinton. Right now though, the polls are showing a rocky stretch ahead for her in the immediate future. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Sean Penn And El Chapo - Vanity, Hollywood And Reportage

Leaving aside Sean Penn’s personal history with drug use, let alone alleged efforts to get a slice of celebrity in portraying a drug lord, the furore surrounding his interview with El Chapo is instructive in a few respects. One is worth noting: the blind rage it has provoked with some US political figures and advocates who show how utterly lacking in understanding they are of their own liberal market system... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Podemos, And Spain’s Election Stalemate

By hard grassroots effort, it convincingly rejected the fragmented, individualising forces that had shaped political life for the past few decades – instead, it organized its supporters on the basis of their common, communal experience via collective decision-making aimed at rolling back (a) the austerity-driven cutbacks in public services and (b) the home evictions of those unable to meet their mortgage payments. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Merkel, Refugees And The Cologne Attacks

Huge pressure was already on Angela Merkel’s shoulders prior to the New Year celebrations. When it came in its waves of chaos on the eve, the security services in Cologne were found wanting. The police document from Cologne, leaked to Der Spiegel, speaks of chaos and lack of control. More>>

NZ Media In 2015: ‘Digital First’ Strategies Put Journalists Last

Journalism in New Zealand is threatened by the constant culling of editorial jobs and current affairs programmes… Additionally, journalists investigating issues which are in public interest have become under scrutiny as seen most clearly in the cases of Nicky Hager and Heather Du-Plessis Allen. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news