19.11.2014, Brussels. Debate with Pat Cox “The EU’s Ukrainian question – a geopolitical challenge to values, capacity and strategy”

On the 19th November 2014, CIFE (Centre International de Formation Européenne) organized a lunchtime debate with a distinguished speaker, Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament (2002-2004),former member of the European Parliament’s Observer Mission to Ukraine and Board member of Yalta European Strategy, Ukraine.

During the event Mr. Cox discussed the role of Putin’s doctrine in destabilizing the situation in the East of Ukraine, processes that have been unfolding in the region, state of Ukraine’s economy, politics and society as well as EU’s response to the crisis.

The speaker began his analysis by placing Ukraine on the geographical, geostrategic and historical maps. Mr. Cox mentioned the hardships Ukrainian nation suffered in the 20st century. The country was ‘hidden in the public view’, believes the speaker, for a very long time despite its size and importance for the European continent. He had a chance to get to know Ukraine better during a humanitarian observation mission, during which he met high level officials (25 meetings with former Prime-Minister Azarov and 18 meetings with Ex-President Yanukovych). Mr. Cox described the prevailing homo-sovieticus culture among political elite, corruption and extreme concentration of power and wealth in the hands of few oligarchs. All of these factors were a direct cause of nation-wide frustration that later erupted into mass protests. The speaker gave a very detailed description of the events that unfolded in Kyin in the winter of 2013-2014 as well as analysis of today’s situation in the East of Ukraine. Finally, Mr. Cox gave his recommendations on what needs to be done in order to stop the crisis. He criticized the EU for a weak Common Foreign and Security Policy and separate member states for trying to struck backdoor deals with Russia. Furthermore, he believes, European liberal democracy is facing threats not only outside, from such actors as Russia, but also within. The EU needs to defend the values it was built on and Ukraine is certainly on the frontlines of this battle, added the speaker.