5 Years after the EuroMaidan Revolution: The Maidan Legacy

On 27 November 2018, the Office attended a conference at the European Parliament on the topic „5 Years after the EuroMaidan Revolution: The Maidan Legacy“. The event was organised by MEP Rebacca Harms and MEP Dariusz Rosati. The conference is part of the „5th Anniversary of the Euro-Maidan Revolution in Ukraine”, which was opened with an exhibition and film screening of the movie „Maidan“ at the European Parliament. The report will focus on the conference from 27 November 2018.

Opening the conference, MEP David McAllister, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, welcomed the audience and the speakers to the event. He informed the audience that due to recent developments, the speakers from Ukraine cannot take part in the conference. Furthermore, he made the audience aware of the fact that the event will be live streamed.

McAllister: „I am happy to welcome the speakers and the participants to our event today“.

MEP Dariusz Rosati, MEP Chair of the Delegation of the European Parliament to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, welcomed the speakers and the participants. He stressed the Maidan revolution as a historic moment for Ukrainian but also European history. He further underlined, that those people who came out to the streets and participated in the peaceful movement, were driven, by not only by the need to resist the corrupt Yanukovich regime but by deep desire for freedom, democracy and European integration. The narrative often presented by the Russian side that there was a coup, is simply not true. He then stressed, it is important to not lose the momentum of reform process in Ukraine and the always remember the root causes of the crisis.

Rosati: “We must make a very strong statement. This statement must indicate who is the aggressor again. Sanctions should be extended. Sanctions in the economic sphere such as abandoning the NS2 project”.

MEP Rebecca Harms, Chair of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and Member of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee in the European Parliament, emphasised that it is important to remember how the Maidan changed. What started as a protest of young people, who came out in support of the Association Agreement, evolved into a real revolution, as a response to the use of brutal violence by the Yanukovich government against its own people, and went beyond the signature for the AA. However, the real tragedy as she further underlined, happened after the Maidan in Crimea and Donbass, with the Russian annexation and occupation of the territory. She further stated, that looking back at the Maidan 2013, it makes sense to talk about the recent Russian aggression in Kerch and the Azov Sea. The essence of escalation experienced in the winter of 2014, is continuing to this day.

Harms: „NATO must increase its presence in the Black Sea region. For me, presence of NATO is an instrument to de-escalate the situation”.

Mykola Tochytskyi, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Kingdom of Belgium, Representative of Ukraine to the European Union and European Atomic Energy Community. During the Maidan, hundreds of Ukrainians paid their lives which is a direct reflection of the European choice of Ukraine not only in geographical terms but also in terms of values. Mr Tochytskyi then highlighted that Russia’s actions against Ukrainian forces are the new dimension of its direct military aggression.

Tochytskyi: “Russian hostile act against Ukrainian vessels is the signal: if we don’t stop Russian aggression, Putin will continue the aggression.”

Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Historian, Doctor of Historical Science and professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University, drew everyone’s attention to the fact that considering the circumstances that Ukraine is in, the country remains quite stable. Concerning the Maidan and the subsequent developments in Crimea and Donbass, he elaborated that once Ukraine started moving towards the west, it presented a strategic threat to Putin’s Russia. He further highlighted the importance of civil society and the young generation, which have remained very vibrant and hungry for democratic transitions.

Hrytsak: „Crisis is too important of opportunity to be squandered. We must come up with a new EU-Ukraine agenda. The EU must help the Ukrainian population by providing a European perspective”.

Juri Durkot, journalist, author, and translator, believed non-violent protest at the Maidan Square could have been possible if the government in power was willing to accept it. According to him, the other side was less inclined to be peaceful, as then president Yanukovich had everything at stake. He then stressed that despite being at war, Ukraine did achieve certain financial stabilisation. Although the reforms could be implemented much quicker and more efficient, the country has made tremendous progress under the given circumstance.

Durkot: “There is more transparency in politics and the society than before”.

Kyril Savin, country manager of the Deutsche Welle Akademie in Ukraine, political scientist. From the very beginning, Maidan had two narratives. An internal narrative to fight the corrupt regime of Yanukovich and a second geopolitical narrative. In his opinion, ideally, Maidan should have been without violence. However, this was made impossible, after the violence was instigated by the ruling power. He further stressed the role of civil society on the processes of democratisation, and the great amount responsibility it takes, in order to achieve the goals of Maidan. He then concluded, that in its internal continuous struggle towards Europeanisation and external against an aggressor, the EU’s support is vital more than ever.

Savin: “EU must support Ukraine, not only financially, which is also important, but show moral support and empath to the highly-complicated processes which are currently happening in Ukraine”.

Katarina Mathernova, Deputy Director-General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, represented Commissioner Johannes Hahn. She was of the opinion that dates and symbol and what they represent in politics is very important. Furthermore, Ms Mathernova said that the amount of reforms which have been undertaken, is nothing short of extraordinary, as every area, is being fulfilled to them. According to her, the country has been transformed. Moreover, it is important to realise that Ukraine has the capacity from the EU commission that no other country has. Important reforms have been taken place e.g. decentralisation. The speaker made the audience aware of the fact that Ukraine is not Kiev only. Ms Mathernova also talked about the engagement of civil society. The push for reforms came from the civil society on the one hand and from international pressure on the other hand. Ms Mathernova made the audience aware of the fact that Ukraine is still criticised on the topic of corruption. She pointed out that Ukraine has done a huge amount of work to prevent corruption. The country still needs to improve in building efficient law enforcement and judiciary system. The speaker pointed out that in the middle of celebration of Maidan and the discussion of latest Russian aggression, we must not forget, that Ukraine has passed a budget for the first time on time.

Mathernova: „The push reforms came from the civil society and international pressure. The strength of the civil society and plays a good watchdog function. It’s one of the sources of long-term resilience“.

MEP Elmar Brok, Lead Member on the EP parliamentary support and capacity-building programme for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, referred in his speech to his personal memories when he has been at the first Maidan Revolution in 2005 and in 2013/2014. Furthermore, he explained the reasons for the Maidan protests in 2013/2014 from his point of view.

Brock: „The reforms are not ready“.

In his concluding remarks, MEP Rosati commented on the recent incident in the Azov sea between Ukrainian and Russian Navy. We, as the EU, must realise that an aggression act has been committed, against a sovereign nation, which is also our association partner. Moreover, he believed actions with NATO should be coordinated.