If you blinked you might have missed it. The 17th EU-Ukraine Summit in Kiev has come and gone without too much fuss. Little media coverage, few analyses, only a joint statement and Donald Tusk’s Tweeter feed to remind us that Ukraine and the European Union have met for the very first time under the new Association Agreement. It is also the first Summit to take place after Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power more than a year ago. The importance and outcome of the Summit remain by no means secondary. If anything, resuming this high-level bilateral meeting signals a less volatile, albeit still dangerous situation in Eastern Ukraine
By Jasmina Dimitrieva
Are elections and democracy one and the same thing? Not only voters, but also elected officials sometimes confuse democracy with elections. Such mental attitude sees the internationally guaranteed right to public participation in decision-making reduced to elections. The inherent risk is that public participation in the formulation and implementation of public polices for common good, as enunciated in the constitutions of Europe, remains a philosophical concept, with the elections as a sole manifestation of democracy on the physical plan. While looking at the other side of the coin, it seems beyond imagination nowadays to have in place a democratic system of governance without first holding elections, and without a meaningful parliamentary opposition.
The leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on Sunday, 8 February, to press ahead with the diplomatic initiative by Ms Merkel to ease the tension in Eastern Ukraine. Germany is convinced that even discussions of supplying weapons could escalate the fighting and encourage Ukraine in a war it could never win against a much stronger Russia. The German Chancellor defended her decision to maintain economic sanctions and avoid the use of force by referring to her own experience of waiting patiently for the Cold War to end. “I am surprised at how faint-hearted we are, and how quickly we lose courage,” she remarked.