The Orange Revolution has prevailed. Now the real work begins.
President-elect Viktor Yushchenko needs to embark swiftly on a root-and-branch reform of Ukrainian politics, government, and economy if he is to steer the country away from Soviet-style backwardness and corruption and towards integration with mainstream Europe, a panel of experts appointed by the UN says.
He should promptly overhaul the machinery of government, purge the judiciary and the overweening bureaucracy, rush through new tax laws, complete privatisation, and reshape the health and education systems.
“The fundamental problem with the government … is that its activities are based on the old Soviet concept of paternalism,” their 96-page report says.
It describes a decrepit system run on corruption, cronyism and bureaucratic whim.
EU membership is a realistic prospect only in the long term, it adds.
None the less, “the time has come to actively engage the EU in negotiations, demanding something concrete for each concession”.
Ukraine is amazing. It is a huge country, almost fifty million souls, with a language almost indistinguishable from Russian and a population that’s plurality Catholic. Ukraine was the last, best hope of a Russian bloc. Now its on the path to modernlism and liberalism.
It took 13 years for the freed nations of eastern Europe to join the European Union. Hopefully Ukraine will be a full EU member by 2018.