Tuesday, November 26, 2013

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Yesterday (25/11/2013) was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and I was engaged in a debate on the issue on the Debating Europe website.

It is obvious that above all, education reform is the key solution to a lot of issues that our societies are facing today and this problem is not an exception. 

Our youths should be taught gender equality, sex education that will include education on homosexuality, the differences between the genders and other relevant issues at school. 

Women must also be empowered to realize that they are the "hand that rocks the cradle", so if they want future generations of men to respect women, it is also up to them to raise boys, that will become men that are respectful towards women.

If women do not have respect for themselves, or they accept the stereotypes that exist in our societies and pass them on to their children at home, then nothing will change. In other words if our society must change, women must change as well, in how they see themselves in it and the roles they can or can not take.  

It is not just women who are stereotyped and the statistics reveal that suicide rates among young men are much higher than those of women, and that states something. Young males are also under pressure to conform and play the role that the society has assigned to them very well, that of the "real man".

We also have to examine why certain women, or indeed men who also suffer from violence, enter in a relationship with a violent person in the first place. Normally what any self respecting person would do if his or her partner was violent towards them, would be to leave such relationship.

But some people seem unable to do so, either because they suffer from low self esteem, financial dependency on their partners, family or public opinion restrictions, shame, an idea that the best interests of their children would be to stay in such relationship and so on. 

As a society we must struggle to remove such taboos on relationships and the family institution, the role of each gender in them and the stereotypes that we have created on how must a man or a woman act in them. Perhaps laws must be extended and developed by the state, to protect the most vulnerable people of our community.

People who are violent towards their partners most likely come from a family that abuse by the father, the mother or both was the norm, and so they continue what they know best and think it is normal: violence.

Perhaps they saw their mother being hit by their father at home, or the mother herself was abusive towards her children, or she allowed the father to be abusive towards their children, or both parents were abusive towards them.

And so the circle of violence never ends. The issue here is, how do we stop it and empower women to have more confidence and economic independence, that if they enter into a relationship with such men, to be confident and proud enough, but also financially independent to break away. 

Help them protect their children from violent men, but also stop being abusive towards their children, to retaliate for the violence they receive from the man that they "love" or are dependent on financially.

Perhaps women that enter such relationships believe that that is what they deserve and they do not deserve better. Or themselves have grown in an abusive family and they are just accustomed to violence. 

Potentially more state intervention is needed in family affairs, but then people will understandably object to such thing. Maybe this kind of intervention must be more discreet, with the establishment of agencies to support families in need and of course education. 

What I mean by "education" is not by its academic dimension of course rather its social, though promoted through our educational institutions. In this way we should try and change the stereotypes that portray men and women as they are under our current social role models.

Punishing one single case of violence, may solve the problem of one abusive relationship but it does not stop the phenomenon in the long term. It has been going on for too long and punishing one violent man here or there does not make it go away. Not that these men shouldn't be punished.

But preferably all of us as a society must take action collectively, both men and women, to raise children that do not think that violence is acceptable at any form. And our schools and governments must play an active role in this effort.  

We all know what shameful secrets, exist in the institution of family behind closed doors. Struggles between the parents to gain influence or power over another, or show to the society a fake facade of appropriateness, morals, happiness and accomplishment. And within these struggles, both male and female children are forced to comply with certain stereotypes, to be a "good wife" or a "real man".

It is those stereotypes that do most of the damage. In their effort to assert themselves in the family, in the eyes of a domineering father or mother figure and in the cultural stereotypes of the society they live in, men and women often find themselves at odds with each other, in an ever lasting struggle of dominance and role playing.

Perhaps if we get rid of those stereotypes, men won't beat women when they can not assert themselves, or prove to their mother, father, friends and family that they are "real men". Perhaps it is time to say, it is ok to be weak even if you are male, or it is ok to take the lead even if you are female. 

We should create new role models, that do not bow to any gender or sexual orientation. Perhaps then the disgraceful phenomenon of family violence will be eradicated, when the issue is not focused solely on violence against women, but violence in the family environment in general and the role of the two sexes in it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

An interview with Paul Murphy MEP, on important European issues.

For the past year we have been witnessing a lot of important developments happening in Europe and beyond. Some of them are constantly in the spotlight of the media; others are dropped from their agenda, once our attention is captured by another event.

In an interview with Paul Murphy, an Irish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Dublin constituency, we discussed a number of these issues. In certain points, he gave me a more of an insider’s point of view that most of us would not be familiar with. 

Paul represents the Socialist Party of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL). He also sits as a full member on the International Trade committee in the European Parliament as a substitute on the Employment and Social Affairs and Petitions committees. 

One of the recent scandals that rocked Europe was the US intelligence spying on European politicians and civilians alike. The NSA spying scandal seemingly has rocked EU-US relations. One after another European governments found themselves as a target of US intelligence espionage.

Ireland is not one of them yet, but in a recent statement Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, claimed that he “always presumes that people are listening to his phone conversations.” 

“It is just incredible you know,” says Paul. “The real hypocrisy is that all the politicians are supposedly outraged.” We had the German Chancellor Angela Merkel ringing Obama to give out about her mobile phone conversations being listened to”.

 “We already know they have already had access to 500 million pieces of phone conversations in Germany, data have been monitored by the US and this is a huge amount of information,” explains Paul. 

“Every single one of us, through our G-mail, Yahoo accounts and phone calls, are monitored by the NSA and so we have a massive invasion of people’s privacy by the US authorities, but our leaders’ reactions are hypocritical”. 

“Because even the French President Francois Hollande who is apparently one of the most outraged, actually it was his government acting under the instructions of the US, that helped forcing Evo Moralles’ plane to land, because they thought that Snowden was on board,” Paul says. 

He believes that we should use these scandals to put pressure on the EU-US talks on free trade. One of the things that are so outrageous about the whole issue is that all the documents, like the EU mandate documents are secret. 

Even most MEPs can not see them but American big businesses, which are represented by their government, can see the documents through NSA. “In other words it is just an idea that the negotiating process is open between the two powers,” Paul says.
Paul thinks that the EU-USA free trade agreement is extremely dangerous. “What is all about is not primarily about Free Trade,” he says. “We have already a very low trade tariff between the EU and the USA, the agreement is a race to the bottom in environmental, health, consumer and labor regulations”.

 For Paul it is about agreeing common regulations between the EU and the US and the question ultimately would be if our leaders agree with a higher level, which the EU is in some respects while the US in some other, or do you agree to a lower level of standards.

 The agenda of both establishments is to use this agreement to impose a lower level of standards to everything and therefore to bypass the public debate on relevant issues.

The big offensive interests from the US side are the issue of the genetically modified (GM) crops, as they want access for them in the European markets. On the other hand the key European offensive interests are the so called public procurement, which means the privatization of public services in the US. Big companies like Veolia, want access to American public services.

The two sides want to give privileged access of big business to justice, with the investor state dispute settlement mechanism. With the currently existing NAFTA agreement between the US and Canada, there have been many high profile cases whereby if a company’s right to make a profit is interfered by environmental regulation or labor regulations, like a ban of fracking in one state in Canada for example, the company can take the country to court.

 And these are not regular courts, but an outside dispute resolution process that allows companies to have better access to justice, so they can win millions of euro. But this agreement is not just about the EU and the US. 

The two are the biggest trading partners in the world and if they do a deal, it will then have an effect in the rest of the world, because it will become the standard on how you can or not agree on future deals. “Leftist groups and parties have to find a way of popularizing and explaining on what is happening here in Europe and try to build a movement against it,” Paul believes. But any movement here in Europe must be combined with engaging people in America, who also are opposed to this deal. 

The next topic we discussed was the tax regime of Ireland that has the country come often under fire by other European politicians, notably the former French President Mr. Sarkozy. “It is a funny issue, because on one hand I oppose any outside forces that represent the interests of different capital, imposing any policies on us whatsoever,” states Paul.

However he believes that there is a real irony on the issue. “The Irish government has accepted everything from the EU: water charges, privatizations, massive austerity. But now they are waging a fight to defend the Irish sovereignty and the Irish Corporation tax, so that shows who they really represent” Paul adds. 

He is in favor of an increase of the corporation tax, though not when the pressure is coming from the outside. He believes the corporation tax rates are ridiculously low in Ireland with the real effective rate being at around 6-7%, while everything else is open for discussion. 

Like child benefit, unemployment benefits, or health and education services, mobility grants for disabled people and so on. “But the media corporations and the governing establishment say that they can not touch this corporation rate. It is outrageous,” says Paul. 

Europe’s handling of Ireland was not fair according to Paul. “But does anyone really expect the European Commission and the ECB to be fair to people across Europe?” 

“We had this big deal announced; Ireland’s banking debt would be taken off by the ESM. It is pretty clear now that that is not going to happen. People in Ireland are partly the victims of an establishment in Ireland that just wants to be patted on the back by the Commission and the powerful politicians of Europe”.

It suits the EU Commission to have a success story, because then they can use that against other peripheral countries. “But the victims are the people because Ireland is not a success story, that should be argued,” Paul argues. 

The scale of the banking crisis in Ireland and the level of the bail out, in per capita basis are far worse from what happened in any other European country. The debt per capita in Ireland is bigger than most, yet the Irish government isn’t saying that the debt is not payable.

Similarly in the Greek case, Paul believes that the responsibility does not lie with the Greek people. It greatly lays with the creators of the euro, the interests of the banking elite- primarily the German finance capital- the likes of Goldman Sachs who helped to cook the books in Greece in order the country to join the euro.

But also the political establishment of the country like the PASOK and the New Democracy parties, together with the local elites they protected for a long time. “Greece does have a massive tax avoidance problem, but not by the ordinary people. The ordinary tax payer has no choice but to pay taxes,” says Paul. It is businesses like those of big ship owners that have avoided paying the taxes for too long and that was not sustainable.

There have been debt audits in Greece that showed that an amount of the debt was accumulated by deals that the Greek government agreed to, spending national money on big unnecessary defense contracts with various European arms industries.  

So there has been exploitation of the Greek people for over a period of time, and that is reflected by the Greece’s debt. “But it is an odious debt and should not be paid by the Greek people,” Paul concludes. 

The interview will continue in a second part shortly in the future. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The outdated ideologies that hold Greece and Europe back.

During the economic crisis, Greece has become the epicenter of the European and global media attention, turning the country into a scapegoat for the euro-zone's and Europe's failures.

A lot of things were wrong in the country, but the real causes of the problems in Greece have never been addressed of dealt with by the austerity measures.

The very purpose of such measures was not to deal with them anyway, rather make sure that the bond holders of the European and Greek banks got their money back.

If Europe really wanted to change Greece then austerity is obviously the wrong way. What the Greeks need more than anything is not to be the black sheep in the European family, resulting in the rise of nationalism and extreme, radical political parties.

Greece is a country with a very volatile recent history and an unstable political balance. Because of the country's geopolitical and strategic location, the result was its involvement in every European war or ideological struggle.

And so Greece suffered more than many other European nations did, sometimes because of the country's elites ambitions, or of pure meddling from other European powers. The Greeks are a passionate race with an excellent memory of their history, which they hold with pride. Sadly this emotional engagement with their country's politics sometimes is not for their benefit.

What would be a much preferred solution to Greece's problems, is political stability and financial security, than only a strong, truly united Europe can offer to the Greeks and all other nations. By forcing one more generation of Greeks into poverty and political instability, Europe is only making things worse.

It destroys the overall pro-European attitude that the Greeks had until recently and it also helps the rise of blind nationalism, that is in no way helping in reforming Greece.

The Greeks must overall abandon the outdated ideologies that hold them back, from creating a modern European state. These ideologies are partly a remnant of Europe's political ideological struggles, than in Greece took a more serious dimention, resulting in the Greek Civil War.

Both the Left and the Right movements in Greece are polarizing the Greek people's psyche, purely and solely for the love of a power grab and victory of one over the other. This polarization starts within the country's very higher educational system, its universities where students are subjected to it and often are recruited by student political parties that reflect Greece's political establishment.

Every Greek university is a hub of intense political activism. This tradition is a remnant from the youth's struggles against the junta that ruled Greece for almost a decade during the late '60s and '70s. These struggles are still commemorated annually on the 17th of November, the day of the Athens Polytechnic uprising.

The uprising began on November 14, 1973, escalated to an open anti-junta revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17, after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic. (Wikipedia)

The universities in Greece are since then a no-go area for the Greek police, as a law hailing from the Polytechnic uprising forbids them from doing so. The law exists nowhere else in Europe, but it has been sacrosanct in Greece since the fall of the military dictatorship. (The New York Times).

But recently there is a debate in Greece, especially among the country's academics, on if this law must eventually be abolished. The lack of police interference has resulted in the existence of radical anarchist political groups, that brainwash a number of youths to engage in violent protests and other activities.

Such move would be very favorable and beneficial, as it is certainly not good for the country to have its younger citizens, radicalized by either ideology. What Greece needs is new ideas, not being stuck to outdated political ideologies. The deep divisions between Greece's population starts in its universities, but follows them throughout their political life.

How can a country move forward and find solutions to its problems or modernize, when it remains loyal to old ideological struggles but fails to follow the changes that take place in the world and Europe.

On the other hand the Greek Police, Army and Government that represent the establishment must also go through serious reforms. The police force in Greece often uses an unjustified amount of violence towards any dissident political groups who want to challenge the establishment, or another favored victim of theirs, the immigrant communities of Greece.

There have been many incidents of police violence towards the newly arrived immigrants, either they are legal or illegal. This level of violence in the Greek police, is another remnant of the violent recent history of the country, when it was turned into a police state during the junta years.

Also during and after the civil war, the Greek police and army were major factors of suppressing the freedom of speech of any dissident voices that could challenge the Greek establishment, that the European elites favored in the country. How can we have an open debate on the future of Greece, when there is still fear among the majority of the Greek population of challenging the establishment?

The immunity of the Greek Parliamentarians, is another an issue that must be addressed, if we want to deal with the large corruption levels that exist in the country. Corruption is rife in Greece, because the political establishment not only allows it, but also it promotes it. If they wanted to deal with corruption, they would have done so by now and ideally they should have started by lifting the MP's immunity.

The Greek Members of Parliament are immune from criminal prosecution, arrest or detention while in office. They are also immune from having to provide any information to any authority regarding their legislative functions and deliberations. However, both the Constitution and the Standing Orders allow for the Public Prosecutor's Office to request from Parliament to lift an MP's immunity for a particular crime, with MPs deciding though secret balloting. (Wikipedia)

This did take place recently in the case of the Golden Dawn members and rightly so. But such practice must be extended for all politicians, either they are members of the Greek Parliament or local government. Greater political accountability and transparency will result in reduction of corruption.

The problem is that how will the Greek political elite will be convinced to lift their immunity, since it will expose their mishandling of Greek public money and national issues. They are favoring the Greek and European industrial and economic establishment, that finance their political campaigns after all.

So if their immunity is lifted, the secret deals that shaped Greek policies for the past decades will be exposed, something that no one representing the establishment in Greece and Europe would want. The European elites are closely linked to the Greek one after all, as they helped to its establishment.

Besides, it is well known that Europe is governed by intergovernmental-ism, meaning that the governments of all European states are more or less cooperating with each other in ruling Europe and its populace.

The Greek public's relations with the Greek Orthodox Church must also change. The Orthodox Church, like that of the Vatican, is a hub of corruption and a major factor in Greece's lack of reforms and progress.

They have repeatedly tried to block any progressive and liberal reforms, like the removal of the religious status from the Greek identity cards. They also hold a large amount of land in the country and any  plans for development that includes part of it, must somehow find a way around the Church's objections. They do not pay any taxes though to the Greek state, for holding such vast amounts of land.

The Orthodox priesthood often openly holds back any progress in the rights of the LGBT community in Greece and in many cases, parish priests have protested against events or developments that they personally considered against the Orthodox ethos.

The Greek people must realize that there is a huge difference between believing in God and accepting without judgement, the ideas of an ultra conservative and male dominated clergy.Our traditions can still be kept and respected, even if we accept influences from Europe and other regions of the world. That is the driving force behind the shaping of any culture in history, even ours: cultural exchanges.

We as a race, used to be one of the most out-going, diverse, adaptable and free thinking nations on the planet, but the indoctrinations of the Greek Orthodox Church have made us in one of the most backward looking, conservative countries in the world.

Being Greek to me is not synonymous with being a devoted Greek Orthodox Christian. There are numerous other Orthodox nations in Europe, like the Russians, the Bulgarians and the Serbs. What should be distinguishing us as a nation, is what has been for centuries: our ability to adapt and survive, but also be pioneers and creative, influencing and shaping Europe and the world.

That can not happen with blind ideology and religious doctrine. Europe and Greece need a new vision and reality.The European and Greek establishment resist this new reality because it will hurt the balance of power within their institutions, but also among them.

The best way in achieving change in our country and continent, is by thinking freely and openly, engaging in our country's but also in European politics with new fresh ideas. The change must first happen in our view of ourselves as citizens, as political and social animals that we supposedly are us humans. Then we can change Greece and in extend, Europe itself.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Breaking up the euro to end the crisis? Not unless you break EU.

Recently there was a discussion on the Debating Europe website, following suggestions of a number of prominent economists like Roger Bootle, that a solution to the euro-zone's crisis would be to break it in two currencies.

Such move would be a radical one and not without its costs or dangers. Breaking up the euro can have the same effects to the countries leaving the main euro-zone area, as if they were changing back to their old currencies.

The economists suggesting that a euro break up is the solution, may have an agenda other than the benefit of the euro-zone economy itself and of course the citizens that live in the block's member states. A break up of the euro would mean its weakening as a global currency, thus a decline of its importance. Imaginably even to the dissolution of both new currencies.

It may provide an appealing solution to the nations facing deepest crisis and a relief to the rich core euro-zone countries, that won't have to bail out the peripheral economies anymore. But what will the potential cost be for the EU, if we decide with a break up of one of symbols of European unification?

The euro is not just an economic project but also a political one. If we decide to break it, we risk an eventual break up of the EU itself. If we dismantle it in two zones, then from what we have learned out of  this crisis, a currency union requires a political union. Breaking up the euro could result in breaking up the Europe in half.

Creating two separate currency unions would mean creating two separate political unions, two governments in Europe. One government for each new euro-zone, for the north and the south one. But who would ever dare to suggest such thing?

Breaking up the euro will also legitimize the creation of a two speed Europe, an unequal and divided continent. In the past Europe was divided by two different ideologies, now it will be divided by economics. We will be creating a rich core of European countries and a peripheral, poorer group of countries, using a weaker euro.

The euro was launched with great expectations and plans to harmonize Europe’s economies. It meant that the poorer countries would bit by bit become as rich as their richer partners, or so they have promised us. But in the end not only that did not materialize but the opposite happened. The inequality among EU countries deepened.

The cause of this is the unwillingness of the richer nations to allow the gradual transfer of wealth to the peripheral economies. If the euro was set up the right way and as any currency union should be, then this would resulted in the economic and political unification of Europe, under a centralized treasury.

It would have been a longer process of course, but the results would be more permanent and without the tremendous for the citizens consequences. Or maybe the creators of the euro, counted on its weaknesses to push for a different agenda for Europe's social policies and balance of power among its nations.

Perhaps the euro-zone crisis gives the opportunity to certain political and economic elites of certain EU members to push for an agenda that will lead to a new political reality in Europe, that otherwise would be unachievable.

Let us not forget that it is in fact Germany and its satellite states who benefit the most from the euro that still refuse to either dismantle it, allow the peripheral countries to leave or allow the creation of the euro-bonds, or any other viable solutions because it would hurt their economy.

If all the zone's nations are to keep the euro, then all including Germany must compromise. Right now Germany's economy is boosted, while the peripheral nations' economies are destroyed. Will this eventually lead to a more harmonized European economy, with Germany sharing the accumulating wealth with its partners?

Or will this wealth remain in the hands of the core euro-zone nations? If this is what is in the agenda of the German leadership, then possibly the break-up of the euro should be the solution. But this must not mean that the ECB in Frankfurt will be controlling the new euro of the south.

With a new euro we should establish a new Central Bank, possibly located in one of its members' capitals. It will be illogical for Europe's new currency to be controlled from a central bank of another currency union. So this will result in the political and economic division of Europe, something that no one wants at this stage.

But if the policies of the European elites continue the barbaric austerity policies imposed on the periphery, plus their stereotypical portrayal of the Southern European nations as "lazy," then we might have no other choice.

Europe is gripped by another ideological struggle, this time not between the Western Capitalist and the Eastern Communist. But the dominant Anglo-Saxon inspired "neo-liberal" financial traditions, versus the more socialist ones of the southern European countries.

In an effort to create a single European economy, the more affluent Northern European elites, see as an obstacle the Southern nations' economic and social structures or traditions. So they apply pressure on their governments by placing them on the mercy of the Markets.

For the moment the plan seems to work, but for how long will the citizens of Europe's South put up with the austerity? Or will the citizens of the North be happy to see their taxes being given to Europe's banks, through the bail-out loans towards the southern nations.

This has already caused a great division among the European population, that may in the future be an obstacle itself to the fulfillment of European unification. How can anyone unite the peoples of two regions that were encouraged by their leaders to see each other in a stereotypical way?

If Europe's leaders decide to break the euro, they should be ready to break the EU as well. Unless of course they take the more logical option and proceed with the political unification of Europe, that must include the harmonization of the continent's economies, resources and salaries. Thus the transfer and redistribution of wealth, to create a more equal European economy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ukraine-EU relations must deepen, but with what costs?

The European Union is in advanced discussions with the International Monetary Fund on providing standby financing to Ukraine should the country come under economic pressure from Russia later this year, senior EU officials have told Reuters. (Reuters)

The reason being the potential signature of a free trade agreement between Ukraine and the EU, at a summit in Lithuania on November 28-29th. 

In other words because Europe wants to expand its sphere of influence Eastwards, it is planning to throw the country into the arms of the IMF, an organization that is responsible for a lot of misery to citizens in many other European countries. 

Understandably Russia will retaliate in some ways, most likely by cutting the gas supply in Ukraine and in extend in many EU states. Especially those who were part of the former Soviet block and still rely on the block's infrastructure for their energy supplies. Like the Baltic states for example. 

Nobody can really blame the Russians for acting they way they do when it comes to Europe's ever expansion of influence. Many European former colonial powers still feel entitled to meddle with the affairs of their former colonies and have established blocks or agreements that allows them to maintain their influence. 

The British Commonwealth or the French Francophone Festivals across the globe, exist for the sole purpose of keeping the cultural, linguistic, economic or political influence over these two powers over their former colonies. 

In similar way the Russians, feel angered when the West is trying to expand their influence in territories that they consider as part of their sphere. We can not forget that a large proportion of the Ukrainian population in the eastern part of the country, is ethnic Russian. And many Russians still consider Ukraine as a culturally and historically Russian region. 

Although the Russians must eventually accept that Ukraine is a sovereign state and is allowed to follow its own policies, create its own alliances and sign its own trade agreements, the way that Europe is planning to cut off Ukraine from the arms of Russia can have a negative effect in the Ukrainian public opinion and support for EU membership. 

The IMF is an organization that is based and controlled by the US, a country that the Russians have had and in extent still have, a complicated relationship with. This organization is the reason why many countries in Latin America, Africa and recently Europe, have seen their living standards dwindling by the accumulation of huge debt, imposed by loan repayments provided by the IMF.

In other words throwing Ukraine in the hands of the IMF, thus under the economic supervision or mercy of the Americans may cut off the country from the Russian influence, but with a huge cost to the people of Ukraine. 

European policies are favoring American foreign policies above all and that is something that does not help the EU-Russian relations. Every new state that joins the EU, must also automatically join NATO as well, thus be allied to the US. 

American TV channels like the CNN are quick to start broadcasting in every new EU state that joins the block, that was formerly allied or under the influence of the Russians. With CNN follow myriads of US TV dramas, documentaries and films that are expanding not Europe's, but America's cultural and political influence in these countries. 

So how can the Russians not feel angered by any further EU expansion to the East? Similar attitudes exist to former European colonial powers, when they have to deal with China's expansion of influence in Africa, a region that for decades was considered to be under clear European influence. 

If the EU includes the IMF in its effort to cut off the Russians from  Ukraine, it may eventually turn the Ukrainian public opinion against EU membership.

If the IMF imposes austerity on Ukraine, of the kind that has already imposed in many EU bailed out nations like Greece and Ireland, then will the Ukrainian citizens still be so strongly for EU membership? Knowing that the price they will have to pay will be similar to what Bulgaria and many Baltic states had to pay, in order to meet the criteria and join the block.

I do not understand why Europe must work to fulfill America's ambitions and foreign policies and not start creating its own. It is not good for us to have the Russians always hostile to us, at least not until we manage to become independent from their gas and oil. 

Even if we do manage this, Russia is our neighbor and many ethnic Russians are already, or will be if Ukraine ever joins the block, EU citizens. Europe, Russia and America should all leave their past competition and hostility, entering a new era of trade, political and economic relationships. 

The Russians must change their attitude towards Europe and all countries between them. If Ukraine or even Belarus one day decide to join EU, that should not be seen as negative for Russia, which must itself inevitably form closer relations with Europe, that will not be confined in gas and oil monopoly trade.

To achieve such thing, Europe itself must form its own foreign policies and relations and distance itself a bit from USA, moving closer and establishing a new kind of relation with Russia. And so the US should change their traditional stance towards both Europe and Russia. 

Their foreign policies since WW2 saw Europe under their absolute influence, acting in a patronizing or paternal supervision, or even as Europe's care takers and rulers. Towards the Russians they always had a hostile, competitive attitude with a great dose of mistrust. 

All three players must move on from the cold era and realize that their interests lie in forming closer cooperation. Sadly, such thing is in nobody's current agenda. 

The sad thing that it will be again the Ukrainian ordinary citizens that will pay for the East-West political and economic tug-of-war. Ukraine has the misfortune of being located right in the middle of the interests of two world's colliding, the clash of two economic and political superpowers. That of America and Russia, with Europe playing the role of America's middleman.

So I doubt that Ukraine will ever be political or economically stable, until these two big blocks solve their differences in some way. But if their political games persist, Ukraine is in risk of not just instability, but even partition. Hopefully the Ukrainian officials will keep that in mind in their effort to disentangle themselves from Russia and asserting themselves as a country in the region and the globe. 

Europe must help Ukraine in its effort to achieve this goal, while forming its own united voice as a global player and foreign policy, that will mean changing its overall traditional relationship both with Russia and America. Ukraine should ideally join a European block that has its own agenda and foreign policies, not a block that is still operating in a post WW2 mode.