Change their name!

Well, I’m not sure it would achieve a great deal but it was one on the more playful suggestions Prof Timothy Garton Ash made during a presentation this evening in Oxford.

As a liberal who has an almost unhealthy obsession with European affairs, I was keen to hear what GA (a Professor of European Studies here in Oxford) had to say about my favorite subject. I’m glad I did for two reasons.

Firstly, having spent most of 2010 bemoaning the absence of a cohesive EU policy in Ukraine, and having concluded that the mass duplication of national and EU embassy resources Ukraine is, in part, the root of this problem – I was able to ask what he (and lets face it he’s a lot smarter than me) thought. Depressingly, GA turned my whole argument on its head and instead pointed-out the benefit of having 27 national + one EU embassies, all pushing for similar change  …the result is greater than the sum of its parts etc etc.
I’m still not sure I agree but I can see his point and it means I’ve got some thinking to do. At least in the case of visa policy (my area of limited expertise) I need to give some greater consideration to the possibilities this duplication offers.  

Secondly, during a very brief conversation after after his speech he asked me how I thought things were going in Ukraine since Fedsy Yanokovych took the helm in February.  In answering his question I found myself explaining that, whatever the political arguments were on either side and despite the doomsday predictions – not much has changed. I mean, for your average hard working (and hard-up) Ukrainian – life is not much different. It’s the same shit, just a different day.

However, I realized after I left that this itself is actually the tragedy. Ukraine and Ukrainians need change (a lot of it) and they need a government with the academic, political and moral integrity to pull it off. No positive change in Ukraine would itself be failure.

Anyway, GA did what he does best and got people thinking, I’m not used to that on a Friday night….

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of Ukraine – it’s good to see that, in the case of D Fitrash vs The Kyiv Post, common sense won over our ‘draconian libel laws’. See why here:

For GA on Europe, watch here:

…oh, and he suggested the Lib Dems should call themselves (wait for it) …the… “Liberals”!!
I’m not sure about that one Tim. 

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