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By Colette Hartwich-Soreau
Editor’s Note: This week we welcome a new writer to our site, Colette Hartwich – Soreau is a French citizen of Ukrainian origin who is currently a resident of Berlin. She has graciously agreed to give us her thoughts on the positive site of Ukraine, which is so often given rather awful press in the West.
Are Ukraine and Germany both coming of age?
During the Ukraine Week in Berlin we reflected about the deep and, mainly, emotional reasons for which many Germans pine for some kind of drawing closer to Russia and why they totally misread Russia’s real role during WWII.
We also observed that Ukraine was Terra Incognita for the Germans, a phenomenon aggravated by the absence of a cultural policy on behalf of the independent Ukraine.
We now should understand what Ukraine means for the rest of Europe, especially for Germany as the construction of North Stream progresses.
Chancellor Merkel, who has been raised under communism in the GDR, harbors probably no illusion herself, but, as a realist, she has to take into account her citizens’ misplaced feelings of guilt towards Stalin’s Russia, and the “Schroederization” of her elites (G. Schroeder, the ex-chancellor, is a well-paid, number-one-lobbyist for Putin, as are many German businessmen and law firms).
Accepting Blackmail in Advance?
With the accelerated building of North Stream, is Merkel accepting the risk of a future Russian blackmail, since Germany would become dependent of Russian Energy? And, in fact, it is the whole of Europe, who would become dependent on Russian energy, which is why Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States have continuously warned Germany about possible consequences of a North Stream deal.
After a visit by President Porochenko, Merkel specified that a deal, where Ukraine’s role in the transit is not clearly stated, would not be acceptable. And that same evening Gazprom specified that instead of 100% stream going through Ukraine, there would only be a specific part of transit going through Ukraine, if Russia didn’t get better business conditions and a permission to reduce the volume of transit in Ukraine. Will Germany accept a long-term economic and political suicide for itself and the rest of Europe?
Ukraine as an Example of the Rule of Law?
Paradoxically, Ukraine – often criticized for its inner corruption – has managed to become an international defender of the rule of law. Ukraine’s winning of several cases against Gazprom are impressive, also because Russia, having invested its money in so many European financial centers, Ukraine should be able now to “pump out” liquidities, corresponding to the fines.
A peaceful and energetically safe European future depends on Germany’s acceptance to see Russia as it is, and not as Germany would like Russia to be. It should also depend on Ukraine’s education of young lawyers, enabling their fighting spirit and profound knowledge of national and international business litigation, who should be prepared “to fight a good fight” for a better future both for Europe and Ukraine. These international legal decisions contribute to showing the world the real face of Russia. The same goes for Ukraine: a struggling, vitally important part of Europe at the forefront of Democracy.