Saturday

21st Jan 2017

Opinion

An open letter on the future of Ukraine

  • 'We cannot afford to turn our back on Ukraine' (Photo: 2careless)

The future of Ukraine depends most of all on Ukrainians themselves.

They defended their democracy and their future 10 years ago, during the Orange Revolution, and they are standing up for those values again today.

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As Europeans grow disenchanted with the idea of a common Europe, people in Ukraine are fighting for that idea and for their country's place in Europe.

Defending Ukraine from the authoritarian temptations of its corrupt leaders is in the interests of the democratic world.

We cannot afford to turn our back on Ukraine.

The new authoritarians in Kiev should know that there will be a high price to pay for their repressive policies and for abandoning the European aspirations of the people.

It is not too late for us to change things for the better and prevent Ukraine from becoming a dictatorship.

Passivity in the face of the authoritarian turn in Ukraine and the country's reintegration into a newly expanding Russian imperial sphere of interests pose a threat to the European Union’s integrity.

It is a threat not just to the moral integrity of the Union, but possibly to its internal institutional integrity as well.

Alongside the diplomatic and economic measures taken by individual states and the entire EU, independent democratic initiatives should make efforts to defend victims of repression, support civil society and strengthen independent media.

The quality of any democracy depends to a great extent on what its citizens know about their country and the world.

In Ukraine, the picture of the world is shaped by the authorities, who control most of the mass media, and Russian television channels faithful to Russian President Vldimir Putin.

For the sake of democracy, we must support and strengthen independent and pluralistic media in Ukraine.

We must help strengthen civil society, especially the new initiatives which have arisen around the Maidan.

No matter what the authorities say, the people fighting to keep their country's future open are not “foreign agents” - the only ones deserving of that name are those pursuing a policy of mass repression to quash Ukraine's hopes of becoming a European democracy.

This letter has already been signed by:

Andrew Arato, professor of political and social theory, New School for Social Research, United States

Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Lluís Bassets, deputy director, El País, Spain

Zygmunt Bauman, professor of sociology, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Gianni Bonvicini, director of the Institute of International Affairs, Italy

Jose Casanova, professor of sociology, Georgetown University, United States

Boguslaw Chrabota, editor-in-chief of the Rzeczpospolita daily, Poland

Norman Davies, professor of history, University of London, United Kingdom

Ales Debeljak, poet and cultural critic, Slovenia

Tibor Dessewffy, president of the Demos Hungary think tank

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former foreign minister, Chairman of the Baltic Development Forum, Denmark

Ute Frevert, director of the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany

Paolo Flores d'Arcais, philosopher and journalist, editor of MicroMega magazine, Italy

Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies, Oxford University, United Kingdom

Carlos Gaspar, chairman of the Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI), Portugal

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, United States

Carlo Ginzburg, professor of history at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy

Andre Glucksmann, philosopher and writer, France

Jeff Goldfarb, professor of sociology, New School for Social Research, United States

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, United Kingdom

Andrea Graziosi, professor of history, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

Tomas Halík, professor of sociology, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic

Pierre Hassner, director of the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, France

Agnieszka Holland, film director and screenwriter, Poland

William Hunt, professor of history, St. Lawrence University, United States

Suat Kiniklioglu, executive director of the Centre for Strategic Communication, Turkey

Ira Katznelson, professor of political science and history, Columbia University, United States

Janos Kis, professor of philosophy and political science, Central European University, Hungary

Zenon E. Kohut, professor of history, Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Research, University of Alberta, Canada

David Koranyi, diplomat, former undersecretary of state in Hungary

Bernard Kouchner, former foreign minister, France

Ivan Krastev, chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Bulgaria

Marcin Krol, professor of history of ideas, Warsaw University, Poland

Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, United Kingdom

Sonja Licht, president of Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Serbia

Tomasz Lis, editor-in-chief of Newsweek Polska weekly, Poland

Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza daily, Poland

Marie Mendras, directeur de recherche, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France

Dominique Moisi, conseiller special de Institut français de relations internationales (l'Ifri), France

Alexander J. Motyl, professor of political science, Rutgers University-Newark, United States

Piotr Mucharski, editor-in-chief of Tygodnik Powszechny weekly, Poland

Aryeh Neier, president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations, United States

Kalypso Nicolaidis, professor of international relations, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Ton Nijhuis, director of the Duitsland Instituut, The Netherlands

Zbigniew Nosowski, editor-in-chief of Wiez magazine, Poland

Claus Offe, professor of political sociology, Hertie School of Governance, Germany

Andrzej Olechowski, former foreign minister, Poland

Monika Olejnik, journalist, Poland

Andres Ortega, author and journalist, former director of policy planning, Office of the Spanish Prime Minister, Spain

Ana Palacio, former foreign minister, former vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group, Spain

Simon Panek, director of People In Need, Czech Republic

Anton Pelinka, professor of political science, Central European University, Austria-Hungary

Victor Perez-Diaz, president of Analistas Socio-Políticos (ASP), Spain

Marc F. Plattner, editor, Journal of Democracy, United States

Ruprecht Polenz, former chairman of the committee on foreign affairs of the German Bundestag, Germany

Adam Pomorski, president of the Polish PEN Club, Poland

Laszlo Rajk jr., architect, designer and political activist, Hungary

Joachim Rogall, executive director of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Germany

Adam Daniel Rotfeld, former foreign minister, Poland

Jacques Rupnik, directeur de recherche, Sciences Po, France

Daniel Sachs, member of the board of Proventus, Sweden

Saskia Sassen, professor of sociology, Columbia University, United States

Gesine Schwan, president of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance, Germany

Richard Sennett, professor of Sociology New York University, United States

Narcis Serra, president of the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, Spain

Martin M. Simecka, journalist, Editor of Respekt weekly, Czech Republic

Sławomir Sierakowski, director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Poland

Aleksander Smolar, chairman of the board, Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland

Timothy Snyder, professor of history, Yale University, United States

Andrzej Stasiuk, writer, Poland

Fritz Stern, professor of history, Columbia University, United States

Chris Stone, president of Open Society Foundation, United States

Frank E. Sysyn, director of the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Research, University of Alberta, Canada

Jerzy Szacki, professor of sociology, University of Warsaw, Poland

Monika Sznajderman, publisher, Publishing House Czarne, Poland

Roman Szporluk, professor of Ukrainian history, Harvard University, United States

Pawel Swieboda, president of demosEUROPA - Centre for European Strategy, Poland

Paul Thibaud, philosopher and writer, France

Nathalie Tocci, deputy director of the Institute of International Affairs, Italy

Jordi Vaquer, director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe, Spain

Tomas Venclova, poet and writer, Yale University, Lithuania-United States

Antonio Vitorino, former European Commissioner, president of Notre Europe-Institut Jacques Delors, Portugal-France

Andrzej Wajda, film director, Poland

George Weigel, writer, Ethics and Public Policy Center, United States

Michel Wieviorka, directeur d’etudes, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France

Krystyna Zachwatowicz, scenographer, Poland

Adam Zagajewski, poet and essayist, University of Chicago, Poland

Jacek Zakowski, columnist, Polityka weekly , Poland

Slavoj Zizek, director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London, Slovenia-United Kingdom

This letter has also been published in El Pais, Gazeta Wyborcza, Kyivpost and The Moscow Times

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