By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
The European Union has a problem. What is it to do with an obstinate man who behaves like a petty, arrogant, illiterate peasant who thinks he’s crafty like a fox, albeit a rabid one? Ukraine’s president will fly to Brussels to meet with European leaders in an atmosphere that has become toxic for him and by extension Ukraine in light of Yulia Tymoshenko’s show trial conviction.
Despite international condemnation for the indictment, the trial, and the conviction, Viktor Fedorovych has reacted by telling the world “Ukraine is an independent country.” Little does he realize that the comment has given the world another reason to look unfavorably on him and for his friends in Muscovy to think of him as a political lightweight.
Maybe Ukraine is still independent from other nations, but are its citizens independent of growing authoritarianism? Can the country be free if its judiciary is neither just nor judicial? The great French thinker Montesquieu observed that “There is no greater tyranny, than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” This has been the sad fate of Yulia Tymoshenko.
Viktor Fedorovych also has announced that he’s not going to Brussels “begging from anyone.” Glad to hear it. A president with Ukraine’s potential should show some level of political deft. At the same time he needs to get over himself. It’s not about him, but about
Ukraine and if he has to swallow his pride and strongly press his case behind closed doors to get Ukraine into the European Union then so be it. He also said that “If there is a need to meet [leaders of the European Union], I am ready. If not, I will fly farther.” Where? Perhaps he’ll fly to the lost City of Atlantis? Stay in Brussels and work it out, Viktor Fedorovych.
His behavior is a classic example of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” It reminds me of the Ukrainian fable of the farmer who is approached by an angel. “Bohdan, God has seen and witnessed your faith,” the angel says. “God wishes to reward you with anything you want, but there’s one condition. Whatever you receive whether wealth, a mansion, or anything else your worst enemy will get double.” Bohdan thinks for moment. He scratches his beard and responds, “I want to be blind in one eye.”
Viktor Fedorovych’s meetings with Western leaders are in doubt and Ukraine’s entry into the European Union is clearly at risk. Europe needs Ukraine despite the shenanigans
of its school yard bully who has yet to behave like leader of the continent’s second largest nation and potentially one of its wealthiest. Ukraine needs the European Union if it is ever to be free of Muscovy’s economic control and influence.
Although Ukraine has suffered many setbacks under Viktor Fedorovych, they can be reversed. He should not be ignored or isolated. There are parliamentary elections coming up and though not soon enough a presidential election. In both the European Union can play a restrained role. The Ukrainian people freely elected Viktor Fedorovych and will have the opportunity to make him a one-term president.
If Western leaders isolate Ukraine then its people suffer. The fragility of Ukraine’s liberty, democracy, and its long-term independence is at stake. Viktor Fedorovych needs to be engaged and reasoned with as best as possible until the next set of elections.
Bishop Jesep is a New York lawyer and the designated United States spokesperson for Metropolitan Myfodii of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate. The views expressed here are personal and not those of the Church. He may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter@aol.com.