The twentieth anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union comes at a moment of unique challenge and opportunity for the country, as Ukrainians look to their new leaders to resolve longstanding problems.
While Ukraine’s leadership continues to emphasize the importance of the country’s alignment with Europe, recent domestic developments paint a very different picture.
Russians should not expect modernization to be initiated from the top. Nor can a modern economy develop in Russia without reforming its political institutions, such as elections, the courts, and the law enforcement agencies.
Vladimir Putin’s plans to create an economically integrated Eurasian Union could give Russia an opportunity to become a real regional leader, so long as Eurasian economic is voluntary and Moscow’s partners do not see the process as an attempt at political domination.
Poland, a non-eurozone member holding the rotating EU presidency for the first time, faces difficulty pushing ahead its agenda because of the eurozone crisis. The crisis also risks diminishing the successes the Polish presidency has achieved thus far.
On October 31, 2011, the world population reached 7 billion. However, for most of the post-Soviet nations, population levels have been declining.
Twenty years after its independence from the Soviet Union, Belarus faces increasing isolation, possible economic collapse, and the brutal regime of Alexander Lukashenka.
If Kyiv does not reconsider its course on the political trial and verdict of Yulia Tymoshenko, it could mean an end to Ukraine's possibilities of deeper integration with the EU.
Russia is no longer an empire, but it is not yet a nation-state either. To be seen as a great power in the twenty-first century, it has to reform its institutions and economy and become a great country.
The harsh verdict for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko demonstrates that Ukraine’s leadership prioritizes removing the opposition’s strongest candidate before parliamentary elections above good relations with the West.