Practically the entire world media carried the headline-making news of Ukraine’s latest domestic political collisions. Most commentaries were about the Ukrainian government’s first serious crisis in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution. Ukraine’s image, dimmed by numerous scandals that erupted during the new leadership’s rule, is now threatened with total deformation. Whereas great opportunities were looming 8 months ago, when Ukrainian diplomacy was offered broad horizons by the Orange Revolution, today these chances, never having been adequately exploited, are being reduced to nil. President Yushchenko will be visiting the United States next week, mainly to attend the festivities commemorating the 60th anniversary of the UN. “There are no reasons whatsoever to cancel this visit,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Oleh Shamshur in his September 8 interview with The Day. Early last week the Ukrainian head of state canceled his visit to Poland, most experts attributing this to Ukraine’s domestic political problems.
Naturally, the international atmosphere around Ukraine is now extremely unfavorable. Viktor Yushchenko’s visit to the US in April was described as triumphant and historic. This time Western analysts are likely to refrain from such epithets. There is little doubt that the current situation in Ukraine will not boost the president’s ratings when he meets with numerous foreign colleagues and leading US businessmen. Asked by The Day about the impact of Ukrainian events on Yushchenko’s visit to the US, Deputy Foreign Minister Oleh Shamshur replied, “I don’t think that the latest events will have a negative effect on the president’s visit.” The diplomat added that Kyiv and Washington “have crossed the boundary line marking simply an exchange of ideas.” Now, he stressed, the main characteristics of Ukrainian- US relations are “frankness and constructiveness.” Mr. Shamshur said that there are no topics that cannot be broached by the representatives of both countries during talks and therefore “we haven’t had any surprises lately.”
What about Ukraine’s international image? Shamshur admitted that the accusations recently made against the government “do not make it any easier to form a positive international image.” The diplomat’s skill at finding a silver lining in every cloud served him well: “The important thing is the way things are happening. Previously, all this was kept on the level of hearsay; today we’re having an open discussion, trying to achieve a compromise.” Of course, transparency is quite important and praiseworthy, if only it is complemented by achievements in which we can take clear pride. What makes the current situation especially painful is the fact that warnings of possible collapses were voiced when the new government was being formed, but at the time everybody was too busy attending protracted revolutionary festivities.