Joining The EU Will Not Make Ukraine A Democracy
“On Wednesday Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Ukraine is requesting $27.5 billion in financial assistance from the European Union before it signs an association agreement with the 28-nation bloc. Mr. Azarov said Ukraine is inviting the European Commission to consider under what conditions Ukraine’s industry and economy will work,” reports the Voice of America.
In a Financial Times opinion, former adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, expresses his view that the Ukraine will democraticize if it joins the European Union. He argues that, like Russia, the Ukraine will soon come to embrace the West and step away from its communist past.
“That is why, one way or another, Ukraine will unavoidably come closer to Europe. It is striking that even in neighbouring Belarus, ruled by the authoritarian Lukashenko regime, a similar western orientation is beginning to surface. Neither country is motivated by hostility towards Russia, but each senses that its independence as well as its cultural identity points increasingly in a westward direction,” he maintains.
Sergei Markedonov, a visiting researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), disagrees and believes many conflate a desire to forge closer relations with Europe for foreign policy reasons and for reasons rooted in a desire to become a democracy and its values. Markedonov notes the EU has allied itself with several former Soviet nations – Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – that could not seriously be considered democracies.
“Equating the choice of foreign policy priorities with the choice of values is based on the conception that the diplomacy of leading international players is based on ideological priorities. No doubt, free markets and democracy take key positions in the rhetoric of the U.S. and the EU, while Russian politicians prefer to talk about stability, preservation of international law, and the primacy of national sovereignty over outside interference. However, the rhetoric and the national interests are by no means always the same in practice,” he writes.
Is Middle East Christianity Dead?
Allan Massie of The Scotsman believes the issue of Christian persecution in the Middle East is more than a talking point. In fact, he contends for Middle East peace to be achieved, the ongoing violence and oppression is a problem that politicians and the international community (including Muslims themselves) has to be addressed.
“In that admirable speech at Georgetown University, Baroness Warsi, whose own family origins are in Pakistan, recalled that Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the westernized whisky-drinking lawyer who was the founding father of Pakistan, represented minorities in the new nation’s flag “with a strip of white alongside the green”. Tolerance of others and laws requiring toleration of minorities, are , she said, not only right, but beneficial, socially and economically. “In the time of the Raj, Britain knew that tolerance fostered peace and productivity.” So indeed it does. She insisted that freedom of religion and belief should be a universal concern.
But how to convince zealots of this? How to persuade them that another faith does not threaten theirs? How to make them see that hatred of others is also self-destructive? How to promote the great idea that “Man to Man, the warld o’er/ Should brothers be for a’ that” ? These surely are among the most urgent questions of our time, in this divided and bitter world,” he writes.
Read Baroness Warsi discussing religious freedom here.
Cultural Influences Do Impact Financial Decisions Globally
The New Yorker’s Adam Alter looks at the impact of cultural differences on financial decisions.
“We live in a globalized society, but it’s easy to forget that culture varies from place to place. HSBC traded on this idea with a successful campaign that dubbed the company the “world’s local bank,” and emphasized the importance of recognizing cultural differences in business. In one commercial, an English businessman travels to China, where he shares a meal with his hosts. With considerable effort, he finishes a large bowl of eel soup as a sign of respect. His hosts, unfortunately, get another message: they feel that by finishing his food, he has suggested that they weren’t generous enough. Sometimes cultural misunderstandings make for good comedy, but when regional superstitions have financial implications, cultural sensitivity can be the difference between profit and loss.”