Ukraine chaos stems from political immaturity

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-13 20:08:02

Editor's Note:

A referendum will be held in Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine, on March 16 as a result of escalation of the Ukraine crisis. Why did the upheaval occur in Ukraine? What's the problem with the country's system and what's its best choice to solve the crisis? The Unirule Institute of Economics and its online academic media outlet China Review invited scholars to tap into these issues at a symposium themed "Ukraine: revelation of democratic transformation" recently.

Xing Guangcheng, director of the Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Ukraine has yet to embark on a proper path consistent with its circumstances, even though it has been more than two decades since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. And its future is also shrouded in seemingly endless fog.

The sudden collapse of the Soviet system left Ukraine confounded in panic for its own development, and it has been struggling in exploring its own model of governance so far.

This European nation has abandoned its socialist politics and adopted the Western political system of "checks and balances" and a market economy after the Soviet collapse, but is facing more difficulties in its social transformation process.

Thereby, almost all of its political rules or basic institutions have not been respected since the 2004 Orange Revolution and Ukraine has been plunged into upheaval.

Ukraine is located at the demarcation point between the EU and Russia. The best choice it could make is making no choice: It should choose neither the EU nor Russia.

Ukrainian politicians have counted too much on the EU or Russia, so ended up bringing trouble upon themselves. The country is in dire need of mature statesmen who are capable of exploring Ukraine's own political space and advantageous elements.

Sheng Shiliang, senior research fellow with the Center for Global Challenges Studies, Xinhua News Agency

Despite the extremely complicated scenario in Ukraine, it does not necessarily have to be split into the west and the east.

Ukraine, during its social transformation, has been striving for a democratic political system, a market economy and a civil society in an aim to improve people's livelihood and national strength. However, the country has been given excessive freedom and created room for Western penetration.

The fall of Communism in eastern Europe in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave Ukraine a free ride, preventing it from suffering the costs that others did in the course of development. Consequently it needs to pay back the costs now.

Ukraine is highly dependent. It inclines toward whoever offers benefits. That's why the country is suffering imbalanced development between the west and the east and Ukrainians are still living in abject poverty. Plus, although a civil society has been formed, it is a very chaotic one where the "square" serves as a synonym of turmoil and street politics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a pertinent definition of the Ukrainian crisis that "It is an unconstitutional coup and a military seizure of power."

Wang Yan, associate research fellow with the Institute of Political Science, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Transformation constitutes an arduous and intricate process for most constitutional democracies. There are some deficiencies in Ukraine's constitutional design, causing more difficulties in its transformation course. Successful transformation calls for power delegation and strongman politics.

Nonetheless, the government of a constitutional democracy is usually weak in the initial stage and the country will probably be damaged by Sicilianization or plunged into organized crime-related turbulence if they fail to accomplish all the daunting tasks.

Furthermore, institutional transformation demands mature political elite with forward-looking views and powerful authority. Ukraine offers a gory example in this aspect.

Viktor Yushchenko, former Ukrainian president, Yulia Tymoshenko, newly freed Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister, and Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, can hardly be called strategic statesmen, partly attributing to the current volatile crisis.

Culture also plays a critical role in Ukraine's politics. Situated between Europe and Russia, Ukraine faces enormous difficulties in shaping its own democratic culture.

Reflecting on a spectrum of social problems during the former Soviet Union era, Kiev is also striving for de-Russianization. It is fair to say that its politics seems to have been torn down by geopolitical factors.

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