News / Europe

Ukraine Protesters Give EU Much Needed Image Boost

Ukraine Protesters Give EU Much Needed Image Boosti
X
December 20, 2013 11:54 PM
At first glance, the European Union appears to have lost its battle with Russia over the future of Ukraine, after Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych opted against signing an EU Association Agreement last month - and instead struck loan deals with Moscow. But many observers say the ongoing demonstrations in Ukrainian cities by pro-Europe protestors have provided a much-needed boost to the image of the bloc. Henry Ridgwell recently visited Ukraine and reports for VOA.

Ukraine Protesters Give EU Much Needed Image Boost

Henry Ridgwell
At first glance, the European Union appears to have lost its battle with Russia over the future of Ukraine, after Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych opted against signing an EU Association Agreement last month. But many observers say the ongoing demonstrations in Ukrainian cities by pro-Europe protesters have provided a much-needed boost to the image of the bloc.

For a month now protesters in Ukraine have braved freezing temperatures and police crackdowns in an effort to forge a European future for their country. The blue and gold of the EU flag are the dominant colors of the campaign.

President of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said last week that the demonstrators are making European history.

“Those young people on the streets of Ukraine amid freezing temperatures are writing the new narrative for Europe. And I think the European Union has the right and the duty to stand by the people of Ukraine in this very difficult moment because they are giving to Europe one of the greatest contributions that can be given,” he said.

Vote of trust

At a time when Europe’s confidence is ebbing, the demonstrations are a vote of trust in the bloc, said Ian Bond of policy group the Centre for European Reform.

“Clearly it’s helpful in one way to Europe’s credibility to be able to show that there are so many people in Ukraine who support a closer relationship with the EU,” stated Bond.

The euro zone is still struggling to emerge from the debt crisis. Unemployment in Spain and Greece remains more than 25 percent. Populist anti-EU parties are on the rise in Britain, France and the Netherlands.

But despite all the problems, the bloc still holds a magnetic pull for many people on its eastern borders.

“If you’re sitting in Ukraine, a country which has lost quite a considerable part of its GDP since it gained independence in 1991, then you might think that actually getting closer to the EU looks very attractive indeed,” said Bond.

Force for progress

Mikhail Pashkov of the Kyiv-based analyst group the Razumkov Center said both the EU and Ukraine should recognize the importance of the moment.

“The fact that people are demonstrating for European integration is a really important signal both to the Ukrainian government and to the European Union. But the decision not to sign the EU agreement shows that Ukrainian foreign policy is opaque and closed both to its own people and to the outside world,” he said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych insists he acted in his country’s economic interest in refusing to sign the EU agreement - instead penning deals for loans and cheap natural gas with old ally Russia.

Analysts said although it appears Europe may have lost the tug of war over Ukraine, the protests have rejuvenated the EU’s founding ideal as a force for progress.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid