This post was written by Monika Kaminskaite, an ESFL Local Coordinator in Lithuania
The end of November marked an important day for people in Europe and Ukraine – the third Eastern Partnership Summit of the EU was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, was expected to sign an Association Agreement with the EU.
The summit ended in disappointment for people in both the EU & Ukraine, igniting massive protests in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
Last Sunday, at least 100,000 protesters showed up at the Independence Square in Kiev, demanding new parliamentary and presidential elections.
The response from the Ukrainian government was disappointing to say the least – tear gas and stun grenades were used against the protesters, hoping to disperse everyone in the fastest way possible. This has not scared the so-called pro-Western Ukrainians at all – the protests continue and it is said that Ukraine is seeing its biggest demonstrations since the Orange Revolution nine years ago.
Reacting to the events in Ukraine, Lithuanian Liberal Youth, cooperating with the ESFL Local Coordinators in Lithuania, organised a public support action. It was held in the evening of the 2nd of December in six different cities around Lithuania. In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, people gathered near the Embassy of Ukraine, more than 60 people, even though the event was announced on a very short notice.
While issues regarding the EU enlargement to the East are generally not very popular & common among liberty-minded people in Europe, the Ukrainian issue seems to be much more complicated and delicate.
As one of the Young Voices advocates Alex Korbel notes, the free-trade agreements with the EU would benefit Ukraine greatly. Looking at different historical examples, it is clear that when the economic state, when the state of economic liberty improves, so does the overall state of liberty eventually.
While Ukrainians seem to be hostages of unfortunate geopolitical games & weak political-will, the libertarians in Eastern Europe, especially in countries which have seen a major improvement in the economic & social liberties over the past 20 years, feel very dearly about those in Ukraine, who are dissatisfied with the status quo.
The European Union will not solve all the problems in Ukraine and it is definitely worth to be criticised.
However, at this point it, as well as the Association Agreement itself are symbols of the fight between the new, progressive, independent , forward-looking Ukraine and the old, post-communist, overly-pragmatic and calculating political regime.