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Monday, May 12, 2008

Europe Day in Kyiv (Updated)

With EU membership prospects remote, the 46 million country behind the Shengen Curtain engages in "street diplomacy," hoping to soften the Curtain and bring Ukraine closer to Europe.

Since 2003, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, has held Europe Day events every May, usually on the first weekend after May 9, or Victory Day. (Europe Day events are also held in several major Ukrainian cities.)

On this day, tents representing EU countries and international organizations line up both sides of Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s main thoroughfare.

This year, Europe Day was held on Sunday, May 11. (Learn more about the event here.) Initially, I hadn’t planned to stay in Kyiv, but once my plans changed, I decided not to miss Europe Day. So I took an afternoon walk through the European Village — from Maidan Nezalezhnosti all the way to the Central Department Store (ЦУМ [tsoom]) and back.

It was a head-spinning experience, accompanied by the ubiquitous Kyiv city election ads, light boxes, banners, and kiosks. Rollerbladers and bicyclers carrying corporate and election banners raced backed and forth all day long.

Ironically, amidst all this hoopla, a foreigner could have easily mistaken the blue star-circled banner of the EU for the blue-white banners of the Party of Regions. Or for the blue banners of the Katerynchuk Bloc. But that would have killed all the irony.

Soundtrack: Laskovy Mai "Beliye rozy"

Turkey has sought EU membership for decades and always participates.

Party of Regions
Vasyl Horbal, the new mayor!

Yes, that's Pinchuk's talkhouse

Public debates
12:00-13:30 Ukrainians in Europe
: Integration de facto
What does the EU mean to Ukraine? What does Ukraine mean to the EU?

A mini-soccer match between Ukraine and Turkey

An anti-racist network that promotes tolerance and cross-cultural understanding
(I think I saw some familiar faces there:)

I loved the Irish exhibit!

Kyiv's cash-strapped teenager-powered Regionomania

And I'll see your true colors shining through...

Hey girls! That's unfair! You're breaking all the rules! How come you don't remember that cool army recruitment ad?

PRU v. Svoboda

Lytvyn boys on a lunch break

Ditto MTS girls

Inculto "Welcome to Lithuania"

Lytvyn boys at work again

10 Sotkas for Every Kyivite! Pidmohylny Mykola Vasylyovych Mayoral Candidate
(a sotka is 1/100 of a hectare of land)

Probably the most populist ad I've seen this year!

Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky: Kyiv authorities should security a high living standard for Kyivites
Not until we secure your landing on Mars!

An obvious oversupply of print materials

Female host: Our respondents believe...our respondents believe that EU citizens view Ukraine primarily as a Europeans, too. That’s good to know, at least we think so. By the way, the French think so, we’ll ask others, too. Our respondents, those who participated in our poll today, they believe that in order to join the EU, Ukraine has, so far, predominantly has taken the right steps. Do you agree with that?

Maidan: Yeeeah!
Lone dissenter: No!

Host: That’s a great response! Here’s one more answer to a very interesting question. The EU is not offering Ukraine membership prospects as of today primarily due to our political instability. But I believe this issue will be resolved over time. It depends on us. Happy holiday, dear friends! Our next performer is…

Political instability. Hmmm… How many cabinets has Italy had since the end of WW II? How many riots and demonstrations have there been in France, Germany and the UK?

Will the Yalta European Strategy please come up with an answer?

Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv, and their sister, Lybid
(the founders of Kyiv, according to legend)


Anonymous said...

h/t to "BUG"

Late Night Music Nataliya Gudziy
She’s Ukranian, but the song she’s singing is Japanese.

Works very well - beautiful.

Thanks 4 all the pics and video :)

elmer said...

OK, Taras, you have slipped.

The issue is not how many riots and demonstrations there have been in France or Germany, and you know better than that.

Besides that, Tymoshenko issued a challenge - "давайте, створимо найліпшу державу в світі" - let us create the best government in the world.

That goes above and beyond the WTO and the EU, and even NATO.

I think Ukraine can still create the best government in the world.

In view of your videos of the Kyiv mayoral election campaign, I think it will take a tremendous amount of work.

But I still think Ukraine can do it.

At least it's a lot better than Billary, Ms. Porky Pig in a Pantsuit, claiming that she had to duck sniper fire in Bosnia.

Anonymous said...

It's that time of year again - Eurovision :)

Been looking over the competition - so far I like Macedonia & Bulgaria while Iceland video does a tribute to fame and youtube (cute). And Malta, the upstarts - how dare they do a song titled, "Vodka" (great voice). Ani Lorak's dress (or lack of) will be a big hit but is it overexposure? (parts of the song I like very much but the refrain does not bring it home, for me but with the publicity push will do well.) Georgia has a good ballad. will see. The countdown continues ...
Can see each of the vids under Participants.

(btw the changing of the rules to favor W. Europe is scandalous imo and reflective of W. Europe's attitude to Central and Eastern Europe - 'want you guys, yes, u r part of Europe but don't excel and certainly don't beat W. Europe' :(

Past high scorer in Eurovision Serduchka proves that he/she can write a song about anything/anyone - now it is "Gorbachev". And imo it is a good song.

While performers like Katya Chilly show off how far UA music has come and the vid is cool too.


Taras said...

No, I haven’t slipped an inch. Think of all the political turbulence that has plagued the European community since its inception. Now, would they have ever made it with stabilnist, as opposed to continuous change?

Yes, there are problems. The oft-overblown welfare state has created an entitlement culture that hurts the EU’s competition. (Well, the pain of losing blue-collar jobs to third-world countries has been felt on both sides of the Atlantic.)

But these challenges have not destroyed the EU, have they? The EU brings together 27 countries based on shared values, the rule of law, high living standards, and, yes, high taxes. The EU does not thrive on cheap labor, “one law for all,” an undervalued currency, and tax haven-registered businesses.

I applaud Tymoshenko’s ambition. But where does it leave us at this point? Will I live long enough to see her ambition come to fruition?

As of today, we have one of the worst governments in Europe. We have European prices, yet sub-European incomes. We have one of the highest AIDS prevalence rates in Europe and one of the lowest life expectancies. We get treated like trash in Western embassies. How much more stabilnist do we need?

As long as Ukraine keeps being a stabilnist shithouse politically, the only practical way to reach the EU will be to vote with one’s feet.

Wow! That’s a rare combination, Luida!

The music reminds me of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major:)

Taras said...

Despite Eurovision’s limitations, Eastern Europe largely views it as a major showbiz event on the continent.

I’m not an expert on Eurovision, but I can imagine Western Europe not being enthusiastic about yielding control to newcomers from Eastern Europe, especially to those east of the Shengen Curtain.

Eurovision can be food for thought when it comes to voting, as civilizational favoritism often comes into play.

Lorak has a great voice and nice curves, but her Eurovision song clearly lacks Ruslana’s Ukrainian-ness.

Chilli, too, has a great voice and even though I never really dug her style, I’d very much prefer her to Serduchka.

Finally, as much as I resent Serduchka and her Ukesploitation repertoire, I still find “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” more original than “Gorbachev.”:)

elmer said...

1) Taras, you are right - if you look at Europe "since inception," it is certainly a turbulent history, with plenty of dictatorships.

The European Union is a different story. You are right, there is no "stabilnist" in the European Union. But I would not equate riots on the part of Muslims in France as political instability of the government, or soccer riots in England as political instability of the government, for example.

However, I think that the speaker did use the wrong phrase to characterize Ukraine as "politically unstable." Democracy is characterized by constant change. Dictatorships are "stable."

2) Ironically enough, the official center of Europe is in the town of Rakhiv in Western Ukraine, according to this article.

3) Great pics and videos! Kyiv looks to me like a vibrant, still beautiful city.

I love the big, white dog!

And that girl really has the prettiest feet! She put them to good use when it looked like she stood on the Chernoco handouts.

Anonymous said...

"Lorak has a great voice and nice curves, but her Eurovision song clearly lacks Ruslana’s Ukrainian-ness."

For me what it lacks is that is someone else's creation and she the subject. This song could have been sung by anyone else. There is no "Lorak" uniqueness to it. It is nothing new and nothing innovative. Actually would have preferred Lama or Julia Raj to be the UA representative this year. They write and sing their own lyrics and have their own style. Like Katya Chilly. or Tartak or VV or so many others.

Of course I am going to root for Ukraine but there is a dilemma. Should Ani win, it would be a "win" for Russia as well.

"A journalist asked composer Philip Kirkorov why he was last year working with the Belarus team, and this year Ukraine but not his native Russia. He answered "Actually that's not quite true, two years ago I was in Athens with Dima Bilan in an advisory capacity, it was my team of professional people who came up with the piano idea, for which we are very proud. And I was born in one country, the USSR so although they are all different nations now they still feel like one to me"."

sigh. Dilemma. Will still root for Ukraine but said that it was not an open transparent competition. Spain for ex. had a MySpace competition and although I doubt that their chosen winner will win, he is "their" choice.

This is Soviet style centralized planning in the music industry. Lorak is VERY popular in Ukraine and obviously still chafes at not being the 2005 EUvision entry, so can only wish her the best. She will place high as she has a MAJOR publicity ($$$$) behind her. But I still think "Dustin the Turkey" from Ireland is a hot pick. :-)


Taras said...

So we both agree that stabilnist is the scourge, not the solution.

The European Union came into being, and operates, in a low-stabilnist culture. France: May 1968 and the 2006 labor protests; Britain: the coal mine strikes of the Thatcher era; Germany: the peace protests of the 80s; Italy: 61 governments since 1945.

Did these developments somehow undermine the European Dream? Did European institutions collapse? So much for our oligarch-sponsored myth of “political stability” in Europe.

America, too, has a low-stabilnist culture. Whether violent or not, this culture dates back to “no taxation without representation” and the American Revolutionary War.

In the 20th century, you had the labor union movement, the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War protests. In the 21st century, you have Iraq War protests. Has the American Dream fallen into oblivion? Has democracy died in America? I don’t think so.

Ukraine has a high-stabilnist culture. We had our freedom sparks in 1917-20, in the late 80s to early 90s, and in the Orange Revolution. The rest is stabilnist: three centuries of Russian imperial rule, seven decades of communism, and almost two decades of continued crony capitalism.

So if I grin and bear it for another decade or two, I'll get a ticket to the European Union? Is that the Yalta European Strategy? If so, I’m not buying it. Neither did Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovenia.

Yep, the dog is great, and so is the country, Slovenia, although the two may not be related:) Actually, the lady placed her stiletto heel on a BYuT ad, which, to my perverted mind, symbolized Tymoshenko’s dominatrix position:)

Luida, I first saw Lorak in May 1995. I saw her at a Victory Day concert at Maidan, a few days before Bill Clinton’s visit. I loved the way she struggled to rip off Mariah Carey vocally:)

In 2004, Lorak, along with a group of other artists, had campaigned for Yanukovych until the first round of the presidential election, which resulted in her losing the 2005 Eurovision nomination.

I don't have any of her records, but as a Ukrainian I wish her good luck:)!

Anonymous said...

They did this EU day last year in Washington, DC for the first time (I think). It was basically an excuse for people to walk into Embassies and get free hors d'oeurves and wine.

They also had this Day of Europe in Warsaw last weekend. EU flags flew on buses. In my interpretation, the whole thing was just an "up yours, Russia, we are Europeans -- go ahead and have your crypto-commie Victory Day!"

Taras said...

In Washington? To mend fences broken since 9/11 and to put behind US boycotts of French wine?

I can understand the sentiment in Poland. The Red Army did not liberate Poland but occupied her, as it occupied western Ukraine. I’m glad that Poland’s NATO and EU membership allows her to flip the bird to the Kremlin, and I wish Ukraine could to the same.

Not that I don’t want Ukraine to be good neighbors with Russia. The problem is, it’s hard to be good neighbors with Russia without taking orders from Russia.

While Victory Day in Russia serves as an occasion to put some hot toys on the catwalk, I believe we should focus on human beings. In Ukraine, we should honor the victors and the victims. We should remember RKKA soldiers, UPA soldiers, diaspora Ukrainians, partisans, civilians — man, woman, and child. We should remember the people who died at the hands of the Nazis, the people who fought against the Nazis, the people who worked at factories to defeat the Nazis. That’s what Victory Day means to me. Glorifying Stalinism and the repressive post-WW II actions of the Soviet regime would be as evil as glorifying Nazism.

Anyway, here in Kyiv we rarely receive royal treatment at EU embassies. But even if we celebrated Europe Day on May 9 and Christmas on December 25, that still wouldn’t give us a foot in the door. As of today, we’re on the “wrong side” of Europe and it doesn’t feel right.