On January 1, 1999, 18 European countries amalgamated to form an economic and monetary union now known as the Euro-Zone. The member countries adopted the Euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. By 2007 the Euro-Zone area was well into economic decline. Ukrainian Weekly wrote May 3, 2012, that “the commonly heard story is governments were ‘irresponsible’, they borrowed and spent too much after the euro’s inception.
“Then the financial crisis arrived in 2007/08, causing governments’ debt to become unsustainable…”. For Ukraine it presented three possible effects; 1. Economic impact; Ukraine would be exposed to low growth in the EU, 2. Financial exposure: Eurozone banks could lean on Ukrainian banks to provide capital and liquidity, and 3. Political fallout: Economic stagnation and wrangling in the EU coupled with “naval gazing” weakened incentive for Ukrainian politicians to accede to a Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement which was announced July 22, 2008.
For the context Mohamed A. El-Erian writes in a December 2011 editorial for Project Syndicate that a new economic order that includes convergence between the old Western powers and the emerging world’s major new players is taking shape.
El-Erian, a Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz and Chairman of President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council, argues that the global and eurozone debt crisis marks the beginning of a “new economic order” that will shake the hierarchy of global trade.
The world’s “emerging markets” are finally earning the respect they deserve, and the West must look to them if they want to mitigate the effects of this status change. El-Erian believes the global change “will continue happening whether the West likes it or not”.
The Orange Re-Vote
In 2001, Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko attempted to create an opposition bloc against then incumbent President, Leonid Kuchma, towards the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election.
In late 2002, Tymoshenko, Yushchenko, and others issued a joint statement concerning “the beginning of a state revolution in Ukraine”.
The Orange Revolution is then said to have been a series of protests and political events which took place in November 2004 to January 2005. The protests were prompted by allegations of rigging in the run-off vote of November 21, 2004, between Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych (victor). The run-off results were annulled, and a re-vote ordered for December 26, 2004. The second run-off showed Yushchenko as the victor with 52% and Yanukovych 44% of the vote. Yushchenko was declared the official winner, ending the Orange Revolution with his inauguration January 23, 2005.
After the 2004 presidential election, Yanukovych served as prime minister for a second time from August 4, 2006 to December 18, 2007, under President Yushchenko.
Yanukovych ascended to president in 2010, defeating Yulia Tymoshenko. November 2013 saw the beginning of a series of events that led to his ousting as president. Primarily Yanukovych rejected the pending 2008 EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, choosing to pursue closer ties with Russia. This is reported to have led to protests and the occupation of Kiev, dubbed “Euromaidan”.
The Euromaidan protests started November 21, 2013, the day Yanukovych rejected the EU Association Agreement choosing to strengthen economic ties with Russia instead. In January 2014 the ‘Euromaidan’ protest turned violent with protesters and police in Kiev’s Independence Square being shot and killed by snipers said to have been under the command of the current administration in Kiev.
As for the background the Wikipedia article, Euromaidan, has it that the then incubent President, Viktor Yanukovych failed to ratify and effect the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement by November 21, 2013. Instead then Ukrainian Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, issued a decree suspending signing of the association agreement and proposed the creation of a three-way trade commission between Ukraine, the European Union and Russia.
“As soon as we reach a level that is comfortable for us, when it meets our interests, when we agree on normal terms, then we will be talking about signing,” President Yanukovych stated in a televised interview.
The EU rejected trilateral talks and asked Yanukovich to commit to the Association Agreement. He refused. President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said; “we may not give in to external pressure, not at least from Russia”. Yanukovych said; solutions to economic problems were required “so that normal relations can be established between the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine … this is our responsibility”.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, responding to Van Rompuy’s statement, is said to have called for an end to the criticism of the Ukrainian decision and that “the EU deal was bad for Russia’s security interests”.
In economic terms Ukraine’s decision was either, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement with R 8.9Billion – R42.7Billion in loans and aid, increase in gas prices, as well requirements for changes to legislation or R160.3Billion in loans and cheaper gas prices in an ‘Eastern-bloc’ trade and cooperation agreement with Russia.
Yanukovych opted for the latter which is said to have led to the ‘Euromaidan’ protest. The protest is said to have demanded; the release of Tymoshenko (who had been convicted on corruption charges in 2010), the signing of the EU agreement, changes to the Constitution, and Yanukovych’s resignation.
By February 21, Yanukovych had effectively been deposed, fled the capital for Kharkiv, next traveling to Crimea, and eventually to southern Russia.
On February 22, 2014, The Ukrainian parliament voted to “remove Viktor Yanukovych from the post of president of Ukraine” on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties and to hold early presidential elections on May 25.
The vote came an hour after Yanukovych said in a televised address that he would not resign. He subsequently declared himself to still be “the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state, elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens”.
By February 24, 2014 the protest movement appeared to be complete and a new government installed in Kiev. The new government proceeded to authorize the release of Yulia Tymoshenko from a prison hospital. A warrant for Yanukovych’s arrest was issued, accusing him of the mass murder of protesters.
Yanukovych however maintains that his replacement was a coup and continues to make official statements.
In the meantime Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, signed the association agreement with the European Union on Friday, March 21, 2014. The agreement is seen as a sign of support for Ukraine’s interim authorities and is said to boost political ties between the EU and Kiev.