In an article published by the European Voice and republished by foru-ua.com Ukraine’s President, Victor Yushchenko, comments are open to interpretation and claims of being designed to muddy the waters of deception.
Yushchenko starts off by stating
“Over the last few months, Ukraine’s young democracy has faced a difficult challenge. This has taken the form of a constitutional crisis and an attempt by certain parliamentary forces to monopolise power by illegitimate mean.”
It could rightly be argued that the office of president is the real cause of the current constitutional crisis facing Ukraine today and that the president himself has acted illegally and contrary to Ukraine’s constitution.
Yushchenko goes on stating
“European parliamentarianism is the heart of Ukrainian democracy. The Ukrainian people want their rights and freedoms to be guaranteed properly, not ritually”.
Whilst the President proclaims the virtues of Europe’s Parliamentary system and Ukraine’s desire for their rights and freedoms to be guaranteed, the president’s actions in unconstitutionally dismissing Ukraine’s democratically elected parliament most certainly can not be seen as protecting the rights and freedoms of Ukraine. Democracy is based in the rule of law and the actions of the president are in direct opposition to the principles of democracy let alone Europe’s long standing tradition of parliamentarism.
“Our recent crisis demonstrated a threatening disparity between the democratic slogans of certain politicians and their commitment to democratic values in practice. Combined with flagrant constitutional violations, clear examples of political corruption sparked off public resentment and paralysed the work of parliament and government”
Yushchenko has forgotten or is once again trying to avoid the question of legality of his own actions. Two wrongs do not make a right.
“Our partners throughout Europe know that the snap election being held on 30 September is not extreme but an ordinary, valid tool of democracy, an opportunity to renew our politics and repair the relationship between the people and their government.”
Does Europe really support the actions of the Ukrainian president and if they do how can they support the actions of a head of state in unconstitutonaly dismissing a democratically elected parliament? What Europe had supported and called for was a political solution and agreement to resolve the current conflict but the underlying problem remains.
The real issue that needs to be addressed is the question of the power struggle between the office of the president and the parliament, democracy versus dictatorship.
Yushchenko’s attack on democracy in Ukraine went as far as the president interfering in operation of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court in order to avoid and prevent judicial review of his own actions.
Fresh elections may provide some short-term realignment of political forces but it most certainly will not resolve the underlying divisions n Ukraine.
The question of legality of the president’s actions remain unanswered.
Until the Constitutional Court rules, if at all, the authority of the president will always be brought into question.
The question of legality of the president’s actions are being overshadowed by the advancing election campaign but it never the less still remains an important question that can not be ignored or swept under the carpet. It sets a very dangerous precedent for Europe to sit back and turn a blind eye to a Head of State acting against the constitution of his own nation.
In the absence of a functional Constitutional Court it is incumbent on the European Community to review the constitutionality of the president’s actions.
This is a question that PACE’s Venice commission should and must consider if it is to maintain confidence in its ability to consider issues objectively and without bias. The Venice Commission is already familiar with the shortcomings and workings of Ukraine’s Constitution. It is without any doubt the most qualified independent body capable of reviewing the actions of the president in creating the current crisis.
Pace and the Venice Commission has rightly criticised the “Imperative Mandate” provisions of Ukraine’s Constitution and PACE recently recommended that Ukraine seriously consider adopting a full parliamentary system in line with all other European States.
Victor Yushchenko has not openly addressed these two basic but essential issues.
In fact he is headed in the opposite direction to that recommended by the European Community. Victor Yushchenko has not only came out and championed the “Imperative Mandate” provisions of the constitution but he has used it as a means of justify his unconstitutional actions in dismissing Ukraine’s parliament one year after it was elected. Yushchenko and his party our Ukraine want to see Ukraine take a backward step and invest more power and authority in the hands of the president, a position that he currently holds.
Other issues such as the adoption of first-past-the-post voting system and suggestion that Ukraine adopt a law giving Ukrainians the right to bear arms all prevent Ukraine from adopting European standards which in turn threaten and undermine Ukraine’s possible future membership of the European Union.
Yushchenko closes his letter of deception by calling for the removal of immunity that Ukrainain politicians currently possess. One policy that deserves support and future consideration.
Yushchenko: Future can still be Orange
Over the last few months, Ukraine’s young democracy has faced a difficult challenge. This has taken the form of a constitutional crisis and an attempt by certain parliamentary forces to monopolise power by illegitimate means. Among other things, this crisis has revealed serious weaknesses in our political institutions and a lack of responsibility on the part of some of our leaders.
Our task now is to remedy these problems in a way that allows Ukraine to move forward again.
I want to reassure our friends across Europe – especially those who were so generous in their support during the Orange Revolution – that Ukraine will emerge stronger as a result of the steps we are taking to overcome our problems. In consulting the people directly through new elections, we are showing that Ukraine will never step back from the path of democracy. Mistakes have certainly been made, but brick by brick we are building our own democratic tradition rooted in European values.
European parliamentarianism is the heart of Ukrainian democracy. The Ukrainian people want their rights and freedoms to be guaranteed properly, not ritually. We must not only acknowledge the obvious gains of the last three years, but face up to inherited and acquired problems. We must learn to see each success and each failure as important elements of our democratic evolution.
Our recent crisis demonstrated a threatening disparity between the democratic slogans of certain politicians and their commitment to democratic values in practice. Combined with flagrant constitutional violations, clear examples of political corruption sparked off public resentment and paralysed the work of parliament and government.
In my opinion, European parliamentarianism means a constructive dialogue between the parliamentary majority and opposition, and a willingness to exercise power with humility, responsibility and restraint. Parliament can function when the majority ignores the opposition and blatantly revises election results; parliamentarianism cannot.
We are grateful to all European institutions for following the situation closely and encouraging a peaceful, negotiated solution. Our partners throughout Europe know that the snap election being held on 30 September is not extreme but an ordinary, valid tool of democracy, an opportunity to renew our politics and repair the relationship between the people and their government.
More than new elections, the Ukrainian people want change in the way that the business of politics is conducted. That is why I have initiated a profound renewal of the country’s political system. One of its cornerstones is repealing immunity for parliamentarians. This is essential if the integrity of parliament is to be restored. Parliament is for making laws, not hiding from them.
We desperately need new, fair and unbreakable rules of state and public life, an honest and independent judiciary, and political institutions strong enough to defend the constitution when it is attacked. We also need political leaders who accept their responsibility for making the system work in the national interest.
The elections in September are an opportunity to begin that work afresh.
Instead of being a point of further division, I want them to become a celebration of Ukrainian democracy and our determination to pursue a European path. With your help, we can realise that hope.
Article in European Voice
By Viktor Yushchenko