Maybe, just maybe, this will work out right. Positive signs abound. No major violence, police units going over to the people’s side, order among the throngs, volunteers bringing food, boots, whatever the people in the demonstrations need. Crowds in Kiev still in the hundreds of thousands. Miners in thrall to the government few and far between. Rumor and tension, of course, but songs, too, festivities.
If it works out, these are the days that Ukrainians will look back on and say Yes we can. We did.
Even here in Munich, a Ukrainian I know — one from Kharkiv, in the east, and a Russian speaker — said today, “Since 1991, Ukraine has been asleep. But now. My people. Awake.”
And if it goes well, what next?
The biggest carrot will be opening prospects for membership in the European Union. Op-eds calling for this may appear in major German newspapers as soon as Tuesday. Opening the path to membership is certainly being discussed in EU foreign ministries, and I would expect Poland and Germany to emerge as the biggest advocates.
This doesn’t mean that membership will happen soon (as discussed here), but Ukraine would — like Turkey — be evaluated by the Copenhagen criteria, and there would no longer be a fundamental obstacle to membership.
Second, there would be a decoupling of relations with Ukraine from relations with Moscow. The NATO-Ukraine partnership had to wait until the NATO-Russia arrangement was settled. If the orange revolution succeeds, the road to Kiev will no longer run through Moscow.
Third, NATO membership becomes a realistic medium-term prospect. In 2002, Kuchma declared this to be a goal, only to un-declare it some months later. Ukraine has been in Partnership for Peace for a decade; it might take steps to change from a special relationship with NATO to normal membership.
There shouldn’t be any doubts that the road to prosperity and Euro-Atlantic integration will be long and hard for Ukraine. But if the orange revolution — I’m tempted to call it a Glorious Revolution to echo another orange character — succeeds, there will be a road, and the gates on it will be open, and the dream of a Europe whole and free will be closer than it was before.
ps Fistful’s blue-and-white color scheme doesn’t have any political meaning. We just think it looks good.