The current debate on the Ukraine-Russia conflict covers its causes as well as implications. While the Swiss press sees the EU in a crisis as a consequence of its conduct in Ukraine, the Austrian press proclaims a revival of the EU peace project.
The Ukraine-Russia conflict turned into a EU crisis
Switzerland, Schweiz am Sonntag, March 29, 2014
While the Swiss columnist Oswald Grübel admits that the causes for the Ukraine crisis are as diverse as the different variations of borscht soup, he names corruption the main reason. In its missionary passion, the EU overlooked that the politicians they were cooperating with had already lost the trust of Ukrainian people. Hence, the EU has failed miserably. The Ukraine-centred conflict has turned into a EU conflict stirred up by the US. The one benefiting from the situation is Putin. Grübel worries about the Swiss currency Franken, which is dependent on Euro. If the EU does not take a more considered course in foreign politics, both currencies will suffer in the future.
Shedding the sheep skin
Switzerland, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, March 30, 2014
Once again the Russian annexation of Crimea has made military means a legitimate instrument of politics and a war between states in Europe is not an impossible scenario anymore, says Jonas Grätz. All hopes cherished during the early post-Cold War years have vanished – Russia did not become a modern and democratic nation state following its European neighbours. Instead it has manifested as their antagonist. While the EU peace agenda is based on cooperation and integrity, Putin has reinvented an imperialist identity. As a reaction, the EU’s foreign policy has switched from cooperation to confrontation with Russia. While Russia’s increasing isolation will strengthen Putin’s position on the domestic front, the country as a whole will suffer from long term consequences.
Ukraine reshapes the EU
Austria, Der Standard, March 31, 2014
The Austrian columnist Gerfried Sperl expects Poland to reach a high turnout at the coming European elections in May. While many other large EU countries, such as France and the UK, have recently seen high results for right-winged parties during elections as a criticism of the Union, Poland will most likely reassure its commitment to the EU in the face of the Russian threat. The newly found list of nationalist candidates will thus not benefit taking a stance against the European integration. As a consequence of the Ukrainian crisis, the notion of the EU has shifted even more from a geographical definition to a political peace project. With the EU expanding to the East to incorporate Ukraine, Turkey might soon find itself within its borders too.
Ukraine: Left outside alone?
Austria, Die Presse, April 2, 2014
Ukraine is closer to Austria than one might think, geographically as well as from an economic perspective, the Austrian newspaper Die Presse reminds its readers. As loans as well as investments bind the two countries together, the foreign ministry in Vienna issued an internal strategy paper on the future development of Ukraine. The main goal described in the document is getting the country from the front line between East and West by refraining from joining NATO and EU. Instead it suggests a membership of Ukraine in the European Economic Area (EEA) under the umbrella of a new all Eurasian free trade zone. After internal stabilisation, Ukraine may consider declaring neutrality.