Neglected Ukraine crisis threatens Europe more than Greek bankruptcy
The Greek referendum has overshadowed a potentially greater worry for Europe. Additional heavy weapons are being deployed in and around the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine, in clear breach of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement of February 2015, according to the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe.
This is a highly dangerous development, writes GIS founder Prince Michael of Liechtenstein. Ukraine may not be a member of the European Union, but it’s just as much a part of Europe as Greece. Whilst Ukraine longs to be accepted into Europe’s political fold, Greece wants all the advantages of belonging, especially money, without any follow-through on reforms. This much was confirmed by the July 5, 2015 referendum.
It is scandalous the extent to which Europe's taxpayers have funded the Greek black hole, whilst at the same time tolerating an extremely stingy EU approach towards helping Ukraine. Not that I want to advocate throwing money at that country to be swallowed by a bottomless pit of corruption. Direct aid, though, could be strengthened, providing more immediate support that’s less burdensome to the recipient. Visa-free travel and free trade with Ukraine would also help .
The proponents of spoiling Greece are now coming out with a new argument: Grexit (whatever that means) would destabilise the Balkans. This is ridiculous. Greece, with its quarrels, is already doing quite enough to unsettle the region. Athens has blocked the Republic of Macedonia's accession to Nato because it will not accept that country’s use of the term 'Macedonia.' Greece is also engaged in disputes with Albania that have had a highly destabilising impact on the region. Meanwhile, the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ flirtation with Russia more closely resembles provocation than serious diplomacy.
Europe has allowed itself to be held hostage to Greece’s dire financial situation. The first support package was necessary to shore up Europe's financial system, but that process was completed years ago. Nevertheless, Greece has received an estimated 380 billion euros under different headings. By comparison, Ukraine has won support to the tune of… less than five billion euros, with many strings attached.
Like Greece, Ukraine is in dire need of reform, especially measures to fight corruption. The difference is that Ukraine has shown it is willing to do what is necessary, even as it pays the cost of waging war.