The financial backing and “being with people on Maidan” paid off: the new President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko (nicknamed “The Chocolate King”) owes his success to the Euromaidan movement and his strategy not to engage directly in negotiating and compromising with authorities during the protests that started in December 2013. His presence among the crowd in the capital was noted and remembered by voters. What shall we expect from the “businessman-turned-politician-turned-businessman–turned-president”? What narration did he employ in his inaugural speech and what can we expect in the near future?
Opening Step: Shifting Responsibility?
Paweł Lickiewicz, editor in chief of Eastbook.eu | @pawelLickiewicz
It’s noteworthy that Petro Poroshenko in his inauguration speech tackles the problem of reforms as a common task and shared responsibility for both the society and authorities: “Each of us shares the responsibility for the fact that Ukraine has come to a crisis state… Together we destroyed the foundation of public trust, principles of law and social organization”. The question is who will be accountable for the effects in the end – lawmakers, the government or citizens who didn’t follow, for example, the “say no to corruption” policy, making any structural, government-driven changes in the law aimless?
The same goes considering the fragment about integration with the EU: “My pen is in my hands and as soon as the EU approves the respective decision, the signature of the President of Ukraine will appear in this fateful document”.
Is it a way to shift the responsibility for the potential future failure from current leaders’ shoulders? Overall the maximum plan presented by the new head of state, however challenging and ambitious, is doomed.
Yet another thing that was highlighted by Piotr Tyma, leader of the Association of Ukrainians in Poland, is the way the new president adapts words of the Russian tsar, Alexander III, saying: “Our [Ukraine’s] most reliable allies and the best guarantors of peace are our army, fleet, the National Guard and professional special forces!” The implications could be considered a threat – despite mentioning peace in every other sentence, the political direction concerning defence of the country remains unclear. Moreover, a democratic head of state almost quoting a Russian emperor might be questionable.
[on the meeting between Petro Poroshenko and US President Barack Obama]: “The support shown for the then president-elect in the time of a realy tough internal and international situation in Ukraine, especially as it happened in the context of Barack Obama’s tour across Europe and on the eve of the D-Day anniversary. It gives a mandate to the new head of states, also to tackle the situation in eastern Ukraine, That, however, may lead to an escalation of the conflict”.
Tomasz Piechal | Editor of „Partnership for Culture” section, Eastbook.eu PL | @TomaszPiechal
“Although the new president Petro Poroshenko Has been positively remembered by Ukrainian Turing the recent Maidan revolution, his presidency is the outcome of only last few months. People remain mistrustful of politicians. The government led by Arseniy Yatseniuk remains helpless in this regard because of the situation in eastern regions of the country.
The dominating attitude is a ‘healthy distrust’: Ukrainians, taught during the post-Orange Revolution era, understand that giving the power to politicians is not the best of solutions. The society will be watching in order to maintain control. Meanwhile, Petro Poroshenko also aims toward an open dialogue with citizens”.
“Critics of the new president accuse him of opportunism and point out perfectly developed skills in compromising with different political fractions. In the end of 1990s, he supported Viktor Miedviedchuk, a close friend of Vladimir Putin. Then, he co-founded the now disgraced Party of Regions. Next, he backed Victor Yushchenko and the Orange Revolution, to become a minister of foreign affairs in the new “orange” government led by Yulia Tymoshenko and, later, a minister of trade and economic Development in Mykola Azarov’s cabinet. Are his political views only a tool to help his own business? As his plans regarding Kanal 5 involve “keep the control to maintain independence of Ukrainian media”, we can’t be sure what his stance is.
Thus far, the Chocolate King’s career, focused on taking care mostly of his own business, has confirmed that it’s the business that steers oligarchs, not the other way around. Is it possible that after the election victory Poroshenko the Businessman will be replaced by Poroshenko the Politician?”
President of ‘Second-Quality Fresh’
“Ukraine has a new president. Sounds great but, if we take a closer look, neither the new head of state is a fresg face on the stage, nor the country follows a brand new path.
Petro Poroshenko is seen as a leader guaranteeing stability and order in Ukraine. His supporters, asked why they had voted for him, pointed to mostly the said stability, as he is the only politicians able to ensure it. They don’t require changes per se, but peace and order”.