During the Orange Revolution Ukrainians proved their belonging to the European civilization. This idea voiced out Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine (1994-2005), in the debates on the issue of the Northern Africa revolutions at the 8th Annual Meeting of Yalta European Strategy.
“The first and foremost difference of the Ukrainian revolution from the Arab ones is respect to human life, non-violence,” Leonid Kuchma accented. Despite the complexity of the then processes, all political institutions and forces did everything so that the revolution was conducted in the European peaceful fashion. “The President’s will was required so that the defense and law enforcement agencies acted under the law. And one should give proper respect to all political leaders – “the white-blue” and “the orange” – that we did not admit the use of force. We proved that we are Europeans. And, in this sense, we supported Europe as well. It is difficult to imagine what could happen if the situation had developed according to the different scenario,” he said.
The second significant difference of Ukrainian revolution is that it developed against the background of economic growth and was not related to any economic problems. Finally, the third difference is that quite contrary to the Arab countries, Ukraine, prior to the revolution, did not suffer the problem of long-term political leadership non-rotation. “Despite the Constitutional Court’s decision, I believed that two terms of presidency is enough for me. People should have time to rest from their leaders and should have an opportunity to experience the other ones,” Leonid Kuchma stated.
At the same time, Leonid Kuchma believes that Viktor Yanukovych was a real winner of the 2004 elections, which the 2010 elections proved. “Let’s agree that the person who tried to get power not quiet legitimately would never in history win repeated elections. The people are not so silly. We, politicians, underestimate them very often. Yanukovych won then and today. Proving that the victory was not accidental… I am glad that we have passed that five-year period, because the leadership, indeed, should change. People should be granted the opportunity to compare who is who.”
Despite these principal differences, Leonid Kuchma believes that Ukraine and the world, in general, should learn the lessons from the past and present events on the African continent. In particular, this concerns the role of international institutions. “We would like that the UN does play its role, that the decisions of the Security Council are followed and these structures enjoy trust,” he emphasized.
International Renaissance Foundation