August 28, 2008

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to discussing the progress of the so called post-revolutionary states – namely Georgia and Ukraine.

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to discussing the progress of the so called post-revolutionary states – namely Georgia and Ukraine.

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to discussing the progress of the so called post-revolutionary states – namely Georgia and Ukraine.
Bruce Jackson, the President of the Project on Transitional Democracies admits in his interview that for the states of the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia that are currently struggling to integrate with the West, this process is more likely to be a marathon rather than a sprint. “If you remember how quickly and relatively easily Estonia got through the first chapters of the acquis communitaire, then in Georgia or Moldova you are not going to see anything like that,” he says. There are plenty of factors that explain the slower progress: many of these states have no or almost no previous experience of independent statehood, the questions of their territorial integrity and even national identity are in many cases problematic, the influence of Russia is much more negative than in the case of the so-called Visegrad or Vilnius groups, and after more than ten lost years they simply have a longer way to go. On the other hand in many of the states, civil servants are better prepared than were their counterparts in the more successful states. “The third wave states benefit from the effect of the next generation,” says Jackson. “If the states in the first and second wave of democratization were often led by former emigres who had returned to their homeland, then the third wave states have people who have been born in the country, spent the last ten years studying in the West, and now returned to work for the government.”
Jackson admits that the governments of some of the post-revolutionary states, especially Ukraine, are now facing classical dilemmas between populism and free market economics; if those dilemmas aren’t solved quickly enough with the victory of the latter, going can become tough. Western foreign direct investments will steer clear and if the improvements in people’s living standards in Ukraine are slow to come about, the whole idea of reforms and democracy may become discredited. “Forget the civil war with the oligarchs, forget the re-nationalization of firms – you have no time for that,” is Jackson’s advise to the Ukrainian government.
The Ukrainian-born political analyst Vitaly Portnikov is even harsher, claiming in his article titled “An Old State” that the Orange revolution did not actually create a new state, a state based on a strong civil society and multi-party system, but it simply redistributed power and wealth among the various political-economic clans. “Civil society is not the streets where passions flame high, but an institutional system,” writes Portnikov and concludes that if the Ukrainian government does not introduce real changes quickly enough, the Orange revolution may end up being a dream-gift to the imperialist politicians in Russia.
Clannish political culture also hinders the development of Georgia, thinks Kaupo Känd, an Estonian diplomat who has spent the last six months as an advisor with the European Union’s mission to Georgia. “It seems that belonging to a certain clan guarantees a profitable job in the government system or access to other opportunities. The problem of this system is the high volatility of labour. The change of a leader, be it a minister or a mayor, brings along an almost total change of cadres. (—) Such permanent changes contribute to making the EU or Estonian assistance programs less useful as experts who have received Western training may not continue in their posts after a change of leader.”
The current Estonian Ambassador to the US, Jüri Luik, shares his experiences as a member of the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) to Georgia. He concludes that many of the problems Georgia faces in the sphere of security are very similar to those that Estonia has struggled with, starting with the question of what kind of a security-defence system to start building up and where to find suitable models.
The last report of the ISAB had to assess also the degree of the irreversibility of the reforms; their conclusion was that “the point of irreversibility is very close.” “Irreversibility is very important,” states Luik. “Many states can choose a democratic way of development once, but it’s harder to do it several times. (— ) Half-jokingly one can say that the pace of reforms has to be quicker than the growth of people’s discontent over the reforms. Achieving such a speed is greatly helped by a clear sense of identity that allows decisions to be taken almost automatically and still remain on the right track.” In this respect, Luik concludes, Estonia’s task was much easier than Georgia’s.

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