Dr. Otto Luchterhandt is one of Germany's leading specialists on East European law and an Emeritus Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Hamburg. He studied law, public administration, and Slavic languages at Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Bonn and Cologne.
1. How would you assess the results of Yanukovych's first year of presidency in comparison to those of the previous Orange leadership?
The overall direction of the political course of the new president differs significantly from the politics of the previous executive. This expresses itself in many spheres of the domestic and foreign policies of Ukraine. This change of course was facilitated by the fact that Viktor Yanukovych's camp soon after his election of president managed to gain control not only of the of the executive, but also of the legislative branch of power. A second fact contributing was that the Constitutional Court returned the 1996 version of the Constitution which was valid until December 2005. Thus, Yanukovych gained control of practically all branches of power. The results could be seen in all spheres of governmental and social life, and especially in the field of human rights, mass media freedom etc. Notwithstanding the fact that, in the relationship to the EU the President's course is observing a certain continuity, it is obvious that the new President has substantially changed the direction of the development of the country with regard to relations to Russia . Nevertheless, the Ukrainian-Russian relations remain complicated especially because of the deep differences between the economic, and partly also geopolitical interests of both countries. Russia aims to draw Ukraine into its political orbit, and especially wants to integrate Ukraine into the Customs Union, but this does obviously not correspond to the wishes of Yanukovych and those oligarchs that are his financial and economic backers.
The EU should employ all available instruments to support Ukraine in the development of market economics, democracy, civil society and the rule of law. The EU should link this to an unequivocal and serious statement that Ukraine has the right to apply for membership in the EU if it makes progress, in the above-mentioned spheres, and conducts a real, "European" modernization.
3. Could and should the current pro-Russian German position be replaced by a pro-Ukrainian position? To which degree may domestic political changes in Germany play a role for its future Eastern policy positions?
The Federal Republic of Germany has to change its rather one-sided political orientation toward Russia and replace this with with a more balanced bilateral relations. It would be unrealistic to await serious changes in the political course towards Russia and Ukraine, from a change in the party composition of the government. In that regard, there seems to be in Germany a broad cross-partisan consensus between parliamentary parties of all factions.
Answering the question, I can only refer back to my comment on the second question. That means that Ukraine has to conduct tenacious and single-minded economic and legal policies for a real modernization.
5. Did the decision of Viktor Yanukovych to prosecute the former president Leonid Kuchma for the murder of a journalist add credibility to the current government and improve its image in the West? What are your expectations about how this case should be resolved?
I am not sure that this decision of the General Procuracy is motivated by an urge to increase the rule of law in the country. Rather it is an instrument of the new President to destroy the Kuchma Clan for achieving control of its economic resources and for neutralizing the political influence of those oligarchs that are still connected to Kuchma.
6. Do you think Ukraine will ever enter the EU, and, if so, under which conditions and when approximately?
I am absolutely convinced of that, if the EU itself survives....
Olena Tregub is a GMAP student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Medford, Mass., and works as a freelance journalist, in Washington, DC, and Kyiv, Ukraine.