In Search of Ukraine's Identity: The Geopolitical Condundrum of a Country Lodged between East and West
Oleshko, Olesia, The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs
As most of the former Soviet countries which broke free from the Kremlin's rule in the early nineties, Ukraine is still trying to identify and establish its new geopolitical role as well as bolster relations with its Eastern and Western neighbors. The cause of Ukraine's identity crisis is clearly rooted in a conflict between the country's present relationship with Europe and its lingering connection to communism, since remnants of the communist era are still evident in the country's political decisions, its priorities in economic cooperation, and even in everyday life. Now, it is apparent that the global financial crisis, which has been especially taxing for Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, may as well play a role in this quest for identity.
Ukraine's Identity Crisis
Today Europe provides a good example of unity--merging borders; limitless options for life, work, and study; and unified responses to global challenges. Nevertheless, most Europeans have not given up their national identities, which many consider to be theirs by default.
But if one were to ask individuals from Ukraine to identify themselves, two polar answers would emerge: "Ukrainians are the brothers of Russians, we belong to the same family and we would like to return to them"--according to people living in Crimea and in the Russian-speaking regions in the east. "We are a part of European culture; we must join the European community because that is where we belong"--according to Ukrainians from the western half, which is historically connected with Poland, Hungary, and Romania.
Ukraine's identity crisis, therefore, rests in this dual identity. While the significance of this crisis remains open for discussion, identity issues are heavily bound to another crucial aspect of state functioning: Ukraine's national interests.
What, then, are Ukraine's national self-interests? Of course, Ukraine's politicians always profess to have an answer to this …
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Publication information: Article title: In Search of Ukraine's Identity: The Geopolitical Condundrum of a Country Lodged between East and West. Contributors: Oleshko, Olesia - Author. Magazine title: The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs. Volume: 12. Issue: 3 Publication date: Summer 2009. Page number: 30+. © 2009 Martin Jan Stransky. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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